The only Karthus guide you will ever need
January 15th, 2023 ⸱ 10 min read
IGN: SEU Kip (NA)
Karthus has been my favorite champion since picking up the game in 2012. It wasn't until season 8 that I realised the optimal way to play Karthus from a youtube video by Kartharsus. After becoming a Karthus jg main I climbed all the way to diamond 2. This season I am Masters peak 437 Lp and playing karthus APC since it is arguably the his best role at the moment. My favorite skins are the old and new pentakill since the voicelines are great.
Is Karthus the champ for you?
Do you like doing the most damage in the game?
Do you like being rewarded for dying?
Are spooky ghouls your spirit animal?
If so Karthus just might be your next main
Quick Karthus AP ADC Build
is the go to rune for Karthus. Nothing is more satifying than popping the red bubbles. It helps secure kills with your ultimate, blow up adcs early, and it scales infinitly into the late game. Collecting souls is your duty on Karthus so keep calm and reap on. is just the best with the added bonus from sustain, is just extra damage. Most people go for I do recomend going ultimate since Karthus also does benefit from the rune and his R late game being on a shorter cooldown is very nice for fights and objectives. Secondary precision is his best since you get and . The first for your ongoing mana problems and the ladder for extra damage that benefits from your passive. Finally double adaptive damage and armor unless you are into another APC matchup.
Go every game. I recomend you ask your support to go ignite or heal since exhaust is simply better if you take it. Flash is staple since you need to to play safe since its your only mobility tool as well as an engage tool to guarantee kills or damage. A lot of the time you will want to flash right before you die in order to best position yourself to get the mot out of your passive. Exhaust allows you to take the fights you want as well as guarantee as many qs hit as posible. Exhaust is your best friend for securing kills and taking skirmishes
is always the play. You want to rush lost chapter as soon as posible and try to focus on getting liandrys before tier 2 boots. Your power spikes are , , , and so on. Tier 2 boots is better than any of the componenets. liandries is simply the best mythic on Karthus since all of his abilities are aoe and you're going to be dying in the middle of fights and burning people to death with your E and ult. Your goal in fights is to do as much damage as posible and zone with your passive. A good flash into the enemy team can feel like a 7 second fiddlesticks ult. See video below for reference. Once you get out of the core group its going to be situational on which item you go for first. For starters if you are seriously ahead and have the gold deathcap can be the best item to strengthen your lead. However you might find yourself in the situation where if you are fed they will stack mr so might just be better because of the % pen which is super strong on karth. He is one of the best champs to use the item. You could even argue that if you have a huge shutdown that is the better item since you probably don't want to give that away. These are the questions you need to ask yourself when fed. HOWEVER when behind you need to go strictly for damage and your best option is gonna be void staff since you won't have the gold for . However there are some instances where zhonyas might be the choice but I recomend just trying to do as much damage as posible so you can contribute to your team getting back into the game. Final note is when to build , and honestly I build that item every game since the stats are good for the cost and you usually get stacks after dying and getting takedowns with your passive. I will advise that upgrading to is always going to be a bait so please never build that unless you are a certified professional.
Matchups: Threats & Synergies
Karthus works really well with champs with cc, peel, and poke. Tank Supports work the best to make up for Karthus' lack of cc and mobility since they usually take focus and lock down the adc or support to allow for your insane dps from hitting qs. Enchanters can be alright but they usually don't match what Karthus looks for in a lane. For example a really good janna or karma can bully and dominate with Karthus in lane but, for the most part heals shields and slows don't allow karthus to play as agressive as he wants.
Karthus Tips And Tricks
Karthus q lv 1 out damages any auto attack in the game so keep this in mind when making trades, as long as you hit those qs. Remember that auto attacks on karthus may be slow but weaving them in between qs can increase your damage output and be the diffrence between a kill and somone living at zero Hp. Karthus early game is strong but remember over using mana can be detrimental to winning or losing a skirmish or even farming. A trick I use all the time is waiting for the adc to last hit a minion to q which either forces them to cancel thier auto to dodge and miss cs or allows for them to take a good chunk. Karthus qs do more damage to isolated targets so q placement is crucial to maximizing dps when fighting in waves and focusing the target you want to blow up. When it comes to fighting lv 1 is strong because of your q and lv 3 because of the second point in q. Farming with karth can feel very strange to people that are new to him but just remember that in most cases last hitting with q will refund the mana spent due to your e passive. Your auto attacks do almost negative damage and are super slow so it might take your time to get used to them when it comes to last hitting. Remember to keep enough mana in case you need to all in since you have to balance mana between poking, farming and reserving it for potential fights. Until you get a lost chapter your levels 1-5 are going to be keeping your resources in line. Keep in mind your Q
and Lay Waste give vision into bushes and can keep you from dieing to a facecheck. Wall of Pain
Lv 6 and up
Once you get lv 6 remember to ping it so that your teamates know in case they bring someone to kill range which is going to be around 220 damage with dark harvest after calculating damage and armor. Getting kills or takedowns is key to getting closer to your item powerspikes because of treasure hunter and kill or assist gold. When playing Karthus you want to look for as many opportunites to hit qs and when the enemy mispositions or is low enough you typically want to start of with a
into q which should typically guarentee at least 2 qs to hit and you should typically force a full on engagement or an enemy defensive summoner spell. In an engagement you usually want to exhaust or even flash in the direction your opponent would take to flee in order to get your e damage off. In instances that the enemies are focusing on dodging your qs instead of trying to fight back weave in some autos. Using your passive correctly can usually lead to worth trades since gold on Karthus is simply worth more as well as getting . Another cool interaction with your passive Wall of Pain is that supports with and can execute minions to Karthus' Zombie state. One of the greatest things you can do in lane is build up a huge wave and dive the enemy adc to trade one for one and make them miss out on the gold and experience of the wave. If you arn't dying on Karthus than you're not using his entire kit. 60% of your Ultimates are going to be in your zombie state since they can't be stopped like when you are alive. Keep in mind that you get 7 seconds in your passive Death Defied and your Ultimate Death Defied needs 3 seconds of cast time leaving you with 4 seconds to use qs and your w. Typically you want to wait until your last 3 second to ult so you can lower your opponents into kill range and reduce MR with your Requiem . An intresting thing most people don't talk about is that you can cancel you Q animation with your R right before the lock out threshold to get a final q in before the big giant space lazer reaps thier souls. Another important thing to abuse with Karthus is his fast waveclear with your Q and E which allows you to pick when your opponents stay in lane or when you want to get a back in for items. In late game team fights you are mostly going to save your ultimate until you get into your zombie form or if there is an opportunity to walk to a safe location and R for a kill. But the most common stratagy on karthus is to wall off enemys poke with q and if the enemy engages onto you, to burn them and allow for your team to follow up and if you can flash onto the enemy back line go for it and try to do as much as you can before you die. and should do massive amounts of damage and carry your fights. There are some instances where ulting for the sake of ulting can be the correct play but I advise against it. Examples of this would be to stop an enemy from backing like before an objective or to allow for a backdoor. You can even argue that there are cases where ulting simply to siege towers can be the correct play since enemies will have to run back to base or try to defend at half health. Wall of Pain
Karthus Combos And More Tricks
I know this sounds strange but Karthus does actually have one combo. Its super simple but you can cancel your q animation by buffering your wall of pain. Shown in this clip that also highlights Karthus' dueling power when it comes to zoning, spacing, and kiting with Qs. When it comes to your
Remember that not only does it give insane amounts of vision over walls but you can angle it to catch enemies at the end of the pillars to get the slow off and chase down enemies. Wall of Pain
Heres a better Showing of the combo
Is one of the coolest champs in the game when it comes to his damage potential and ability to bully in lane like no other adc. Most people claim that he is simply an R button but I would argue that 80% of his damage come from hitting Qs and using your Passsive to its fullest in order to win fights and trade kills. He does lack mobility and CC but his ability to zone and output unrivled dps is what makes the champ really fun to play. I hope y'all enjoyed this guide and apply the things you learned. If you want to check out some Karthus gameplay in High elo check me out on twitch.tv/Koach_Kip Karthus