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Karthus Build Guide by ChadKarthus

ADC [Season 13] EUW Challenger In-Depth Karthus Bot Guide

ADC [Season 13] EUW Challenger In-Depth Karthus Bot Guide

Updated on January 28, 2023
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League of Legends Build Guide Author ChadKarthus Build Guide By ChadKarthus 13 0 22,019 Views 0 Comments
13 0 22,019 Views 0 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author ChadKarthus Karthus Build Guide By ChadKarthus Updated on January 28, 2023
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Runes: 95% of time, Standard Karthus Bot Page

1 2 3
Dark Harvest
Cheap Shot
Eyeball Collection
Ultimate Hunter

Presence of Mind
Last Stand

+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor


1 2
99% of time
LoL Summoner Spell: Exhaust


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

Champion Build Guide

[Season 13] EUW Challenger In-Depth Karthus Bot Guide

By ChadKarthus
Hello guys, I'm ChadKarthus, a Season 13 Challenger Karthus OTP from EUW and Im streaming on .

I've been playing the game since Season 5, however I only started playing Karthus at the end of Season 9. Since then I've played thousands of Karthus games and started falling in love with the champion. I have been consistently Grandmaster or higher since Season 10 on both EUNE and EUW playing Karthus Adc, Support, Top and Mid. Contrary to popular belief, I don't think Karthus Top/Mid are dead, I will probably do a guide on them in the future as well.

I will also start streaming my unranked to challenger journey on my Twitch, so feel free to drop me a follow and ask questions or watch my vods to learn Karthus.

Challenger in Season 13 on EUW with Karthus Adc

Rank 1 and Rank 4 Karthus EUNE

Rank 1 Karthus EUW

Karthus Top with Thebausffs & Rekkless

Peak GM 600LP EUW with Karthus Top
Why should you play Karthus Bot
As is often the case with older Champions, Karthus has a very basic and easy to understand kit. This makes it easy to pick him up, but at the same time he also has extremely high skill expression with his Lay Waste, Wall of Pain and Requiem, which I will explain more in detail later on.

Now Karthus can be played in all 5 roles, however I'm going to focus this guide on Karthus APC Botlane in particular, otherwise it would be way too extensive.

I bet you are wondering why you should play Karthus in the botlane instead of midlane or jungle? Well, there's serveral reasons. First of all, playing Karthus in the jungle requires a completely different skillset since the jungle role is vastly different to lanes, making it harder to learn and master. Secondly, Karthus midlane has become quite outdated and there are tons of incredibly hard matchups that makes it so you to spend hundreds of hours to become proficient at Karthus mid. And thirdly, Karthus wins most of the botlane matchups, allowing him to stomp and snowball the game way harder than in other lanes.

I originally played traditional botlaners, such as Draven or Jinx, however I struggled to push any further than low master on those champions. Playing Karthus however is way more forgiving than playing any traditional adcs, since even when you misposition and die, you can still dish out tons of damage and win teamfights on your own. It's very hard for the enemy to punish you, especially the lower you are elowise.

And lastly, it's a very satisfying champion to master. Hitting all of your Lay Waste on the enemy, being accused of scripting and popping enemies with your Requiem and Dark Harvest is simply incredibly fun.

Basically, if you like dying a lot and killing your enemies while doing so, then Karthus is perfect for you!


Simple Kit
Forgiving Champion, lots of room for mistakes
Improved Map Awareness (because of Requiem)
Very strong at all stages of the game
You can decide teamfights by yourself with Requiem and Death Defied
Easy to farm with


Very immmobile Champion
Hard to hit Lay Waste in higher elos
Countered by high range champions ( Xerath, Viktor, etc.)
Countered by most Enchanters ( Seraphine, Janna, Karma, Soraka)
Very weak if your team picks more than 2 AP champions
What to ban/when should I dodge
This is obviously personal preference, but I always like to ban either Draven or any enchanter support such as Karma or Janna

If you want you can also ban Kalista, however her pickrate is so low that I'd recommend just dodging if the enemy locks her, or if you feel daring feel free to play it out.

General rule of thumb when it comes to dodging is: always dodge if your team picked 4 AP champions or more. For example: Singed, Elise, Zed, Karthus, Karma. Even though you have an ad midlaner with Zed, it's an almost guranteed loss past 20 minutes since MR items such as Force of Nature, Maw of Malmortius and Wit's End are too strong and make the game unplayable.

If your team hovers 4 AP in champ select, always ask them to play AD and they will listen most of the time.
What counters you
Adc Counters

As stated before, when it comes to adcs Draven and Kalista are by far your worst matchups.

Support Counters

Talking about supporters, enchanters like Soraka, Karma, Janna and Seraphine are really annoying to face, since they basically nullify your Requiem. Honorable mentions are also Zilean, whose very low CD Chronoshift makes it hard to suicide and trade kills and Bard with his Tempered Fate.

Midlane Counters

When it comes to midlaners, usually you are fine vs most of them, except for long rage mages such as Xerath, Vel'Koz, Viktor and Orianna, but only if they are allowed to scale and become strong. If you play in very high elo, then Ryze also counters you hard, since the best of the best midlaners are able to dodge your Requiem with Realm Warp.

Jungle Counters

Karthus is fine vs most junglers, there are some champions that are annoying to play against like Ivern with his shields and heals or Kindred with her Lamb's Respite.

Toplane Counters

Toplaners are most of the time the worst champions for Karthus if they are fed, in particular bruisers. Champions like Fiora, Riven, Darius and Jax can stack MR items, have insane amounts of healing/damage and make your life hell.

Other Counters

There is also a lesser known fact, but the hextech dragon map also kind of counters you, since people can dodge your Requiem damage if they enter a portal right before it hits them.

Another huge counter for you is Cleanse since you will be taking Exhaust 99 out of 100 games and it gets nullified by Cleanse. Usually Draven, Kalista and Samira will always be taking Cleanse in Diamond.

What items counter Karthus?

This item really makes your life miserable, people like buying this to counteract your Requiem. Basically makes all the damage undone, no counterplay. Champs like Karma, Janna and Ivern really like building this.

Usually only Jhin players like to rush it, makes it really hard to hit Lay Waste, especially in combination with Fleet Footwork.

Probably the best MR item against Karthus, its cheap and makes it really hard to kill the enemy. Always press tab and check if the enemy has this, dont get baited to use your ult, they wont die because of the MR shield. Maw of Malmortius is also included in here, however it recently got nerfed for bruisers so its not as bad anymore.

Strongest MR item vs Karthus for tanks and bruisers, building this makes it insanely hard to kill the enemy, especially if they stack up the passive.

anathema's chain This is a niche item thats really good against Karthus if you are the solo AP carry on your team.

Most melee supports like to build this against Karthus, it gives your team a nice shield against his Requiem, however not nearly as bad as Redemption.

Strong item vs Karthus if you play stuff like Kog'Maw, Kalista, Kai'Sa or Yone. Can be built even if you are solo AP. Makes it really hard to kill them.
Summoner spells
Pretty much self-explanatory, always take flash 100/100 games as Karthus bot, best summoner spell in the game, allows you to flash out if you make mistakes, however I prefer using flash aggressively to punish enemies overstepping.

As you go into later stages of the game, you want to keep your flash for objective fights around baron and drake , so you can flash into 5 peoople, suicide and thus maximizing your Defile and Last Stand damage output, before casting Requiem while you are dead.
Second best summoner spell for Karthus, has really good synergy with your kit since it allows you to not only reduce the enemy damage, but also slow them down, making it almost impossible to miss your Lay Waste. Allows you to self-peel or peel for someone else. Incredible 1v1 power. Always ask your support to take Ignite, do not take double Exhaust.
A very, very niche summoner spell for Karthus bot, the only cases I would ever take this is in lanes where its impossible to kill them and you simply wanna farm and scale up (examples for this: Soraka+ Seraphine, Soraka+ Karma). Take in combination with First Strike.
A very underrated summoner spell for Karthus in general, can be used to escape ganks or engage in teamfights, space enemies or catch up to them. Really good synergy with Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Would take this if you dont need Exhaust or if its hard to stick on the enemy.
is the best rune tree for botlane Karthus by far. This is also heavily playstyle dependent, but as Karthus APC you almost always want to be perma fist-fighting with the enemy, which makes Domination the perfect choice.

is the best keystone for Karthus botlane. Has very good synergy, since you can easily proc it with Defile, Lay Waste or use it to execute people with Requiem. You should always be aiming for at least 5 Dark Harvest stacks at 10 minutes, if you are stomping really hard then 1 stack per minute is the optimal case. It's always worth to suicide if you can trade 1:1 + Dark Harvest stack. Never die for a stack and never use Requiem for a stack if you dont kill.

is good for dealing a tiny bit of extra true damage in trades. You can self proc it off your Exhaust and Wall of Pain. Usually your support should have at least one slow/CC ability as well so you can proc it up to 3-4 times in a fight. Best usage is to use Wall of Pain on the enemy, utilizing Cheap Shot for the first time, then waiting the 4 second CD and use Exhaust to proc it again, maximizing your damage output (or vice-versa). Usually recommend buying Refillable Potion when you take this rune since you have no sustain.

is only good if you need extra sustain against a poke heavy lane ( Varus+ Heimerdinger, Varus+ Ashe, Lux+ Caitlyn). If you dont need the extra suvivability and sustain, always take Cheap Shot.

is the only good option for Karthus out of the 3. Since you will be racking up a lot of kills and assists with your aggressive playstyle botlane as well as global assists/kills with Requiem its really easy to collect stacks.

is a no-brainer to take this on Karthus botlane. Makes your Requiem lower CD, allowing you to kill more people globally or win trades 2v2. In late game your Requiem will often be game-deciding, so having this on a lower CD is essential.

tree is the best secondary option you have for Karthus botlane. You want something to back up your aggressive playstyle and 1:1 trading kills, which the other options do not provide.

is really good for Karthus since his trades and all-ins are very mana hungry. Often times I run out of mana, however I end up getting a kill/assisst and the mana reset allows me to get way more DPS out. It's also really nice to have if you are almost out of mana and cast [requiem]], get mutliple kills/assists globally and your lane is saved by all the mana you just received.

is absolutely one of the best runes for Karthus, period. Many people will tell you to take Coup de Grace instead, however I can tell you that Last Stand is WAY more powerful, especially if you have an aggressive playstyle with 7+ deaths every game.

The way it works with Karthus is the lower hp you are, the more damage you deal, however being in your passive Death Defied also counts as having "low hp". This means you have a permanent 11% damage increase everytime you die, often times Last Stand will outperform even Dark Harvest in terms of damage.

is a good choice for midlane or jungle Karthus, however it can also be used in rare cases for karthus Karthus botlane. You want to be using this rune if you cannot kill 2v2 at all, and just farm up and scale. It's also a good rune vs Soraka in particular, since it allows you to open fights with your Requiem, forcing Soraka to counteract with Wish.

is the best option out of three, basically allows you to aquire your mythic faster. Perfect Timing can also be taken if you know 100% you will be buying Zhonya's Hourglass, for example vs a heavy AD team.

is a very underrated, efficient rune. Basically you can get your item spikes 1-2 minutes earlier than usual, maybe getting you extra kills or assists. Biscuit Delivery is also a decent option if you will be heavily trading or need sustain.

is the only good option for Karthus here. Lower CD on Exhaust and Flash is huge and allows you to catch enemies offguard.

For secondary you have two options: Precision tree with Last Stand+ Presence of Mind or Domination tree with Ultimate Hunter+ Eyeball Collection.

Take Precision secondary if you know you will die a lot later on and want to maximize your damage in teamfights or take Domination secondary if you dont plan on dying a lot and spamming your Requiem to open up teamfights.
Core items

Liandry's Torment is by far the best mythic item for Karthus. Allows you to deal huge amount of DPS with Defile and Death Defied, good build path, good mythic passive, buy this 99% of games.

Luden's Tempest is a very niche item for Karthus bot, only build this if you are the sole AP carry on your team + if enemy team has 4-5 squishy champions.

Very cheap and cost efficient item, especially good on Karthus because you can easily get stacks with your Requiem. Build this if you know there will be a lot of fighting.

Always go Sorcerer's Shoes on Karthus, you dont want to build any defensive boots since your goal is to die and maxamize your damage output while doing so.
Optional Items

My personal favorite item if you are looking to carry games, incredible damage on your Lay Waste and Requiem, really good vs squishy teams and pretty cheap. Get this if you are stomping and if they dont have a lot of MR. Always get this if your support is Nami. I build this as my second item most of the time.

Must have item on Karthus in every game, allows you to deal way more damage, shred through enemy MR and counteract items like Hexdrinker or Mercury's Treads. Usually build this as third or fourth item.

Huge damage increase with this item, however extremely expensive and build path which is why I dont build it that often. Can also get outdamaged by Void Staff in a lot of games. I would recommend building this item 4th or 5th, or in very rare cases where you are stomping really hard get it third. NEVER buy this as a second item.

A lot of AP for a cheap cost, buy this if you are full build OR if there is a game deiciding team fight coming up, such as dragon soul fight or elder dragon fight and you dont have money to finish any items.

Oblivion Orb just got buffed and now gives 40% healing reduction, making it worth to buy if you are against champions with a lot of healing. Never buy this first, only buy it after Liandry's Torment. NEVER upgrade into Morellonomicon, its too expensive and the 10 magic pen arent worth it, just sit on this and maybe sell it for your 6th item in late game.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter is a very good item for Karthus, allows you to apply a perma AOE slow to enemies with your Defile. Really cheap item, good build path, makes you tanky + makes it very easy to hit Lay Waste. You can build this as a second item if you are low income, not solo AP, need self-peel or peel for another carry. ALWAYS build this if enemy has 4 or more melee champions. NEVER build if you have Luden's Tempest.

This item recently got buffed and you now deal more damage to tanks, however I almost never build this item. It's too expensive and too low damage, only build if enemy has 3+ tanks. Can be built as a 6th item if you dont need Zhonya's Hourglass.

This is a very underrated and good item to buy if you are laning vs double AP botlane ( Cassiopeia + Seraphine). Just buy one for 450 and sit on it, will save you a lot of times.

I almost never build this, however if they drafted 4 AP champions it's a really good buy, or if they have 2+ AP assassins that are really fed. Can also be good to avoid getting hit by spells like Chain of Corruption.

Used to be way better on Karthus, however after the price increase it's not that great anymore. You can build this as a second or third item if enemy team is heavy AD or has a very dive-heavy/engage comp. I also like to build this as a 6th item.

Karthus passive is his bread and butter and makes this champion so obnoxious to play against. It allows you to make mistakes, die and still dish out an insane amount of damage. A good Karthus player however, will know when and where to die on purpose in order to maximaize the efficent use of Death Defied.

In some scenarious you can use your corpse to zone away the enemy backline from an objective or from joining their frontline in a fight. Often times you want to flash in and die right on top of the enemy team so you can apply huge AOE DPS to everyone.

Death Defied is also really strong at thwarting enemy baron attempts. You can flash over the wall into the baron pit, burn the enemy team and make them too low to finish baron or you can kill the jungler and maybe even steal baron .

In higher elos, your support will also be roaming a lot and often times the enemy team will counteract this by 3 or 4 man diving you botlane. Death Defied is an amazing coutner to this, since you can often times take down at least 1 or 2 enemies, and even if they perfectly execute a dive and you dont get any kills, you can still collect the entire minion wave, making it so you miss out on almost nothing.

Note that you dont HAVE to die every time to play Karthus properly, this will come with experience and knowing when to die and where to position your passive is what differentiates a good Karthus player from a bad one.

Main DPS source, main damage ability, you want to be maxing this almost always. Quite hard to hit, especially against mobile champions or higher elo players, however you will learn to predict movement patterns the more you play him.

The most underrated Karthus ability by far in my opinion. Point and click slow with a big range, also reduces the enemy MR. Makes it very easy to hit your Lay Waste and also procs your Cheap Shot. ALWAYS max this ability last.

The most important part about this ability, however, is the huge amount of vision it gives. You can use it to scout out bushes if you suspect the enemy wants to trap you, if you suspect an in lane gank or if you want to push out a wave savely. You can also use it over wallls to gain vision on dragon or baron .

Big AOE damage and very mana draining skill. A good Karthus player will learn to toggle it on and off to not run out of mana too fast while still doing damage. Incredibly powerful for teamfights, especially if the enemy is grouped up. Very good synergy with Liandry's Torment to apply an AOE slow.

A little known fact about this ability is that killing a minion/monster/eneny will restore you mana. If you learn to last hit with auto attacks on Karthus, you can restore an incredible amount of mana this way, making it hard to run oom.

You want to max this skill second most of the times, however I really like maxing E first into champions like Yasuo, who will be almost impossible to hit with Lay Waste. ALWAYS max this ability first if enemy has 4+ melee champs.

The most iconic and satisfying ability of Karthus. Undodgeable point and click damage to all 5 enemies, unless they somehow manage to interrupt your cast. Most of the time you will want to use this to finish off low hp enemies with Dark Harvest, however you can also use this at the start of a fight to make it so enemies cant contest objectives anymore. This is very dependent on your experience, your team composition, enemy team composition, etc. You will learn to judge situations accordingly the more Karthus you play.

Note that his is one of the longest CD spells in the game, so never use it if the enemy has something like a Stopwatch or revive/healing ability, even if your teammates ping your Requiem is ready.
Early Game
Early game is the most important part for Karthus botlane and also what sets apart a good Karthus player from a bad one. Now you might think that Karthus is a strong scaling mage, however that couldnt be further from the truth.

Your early game is incredibly strong, to the point where getting a kill level 1 or level 2 happens almost every game for me. If the enemy is weak level 1 and you are confident in hitting your [lay waste] then you can all in them, use your Exhaust and force them to use Flash and sometimes even get a kill.

Usually, you dont want to flip level 1 like that if you are new to Karthus, so just use your Lay Waste to poke the enemy ADC when they are going for a last hit. Push the wave, but not overly hard, to gurantee hitting level 2 first. You almost always want to all-in the enemy level 2 and force them to use summs/get them low.

The perfect scenario would be to slow push the first and second wave, force enemy Flash and poke them low, then crash the minions under their turret when the third wave arrives and dive them/zone them away. Even if you die for this turret dive, it will still be worth it if you trade 1 for 1 with the enemy ADC since they will miss out on minion gold and exp.

Obviously, not every matchup and game will go this smoothly, its also very dependant on your support. Engage supports like Nautilus or Amumu allow you to play the lane extremely aggressively, while supports like Yuumi or Sona force you to play more safely.

In some lanes you have no choice but to farm up and scalee since you have no kill prsesure at all, for example agsint Caitlyn+ Lux.

So to summarize: look to all in level 1-2, poke enemy ADC when he goes for last hits, force out their Flash with your Exhaust, dive them if you can go 1:1 at the very least.
Mid Game
If everything went well in lane, then you should have taken down enemy bot turret by now and you want to be sitting in midlane while your midlaner goes botlane. Here you just want to clear waves and join your teams in any fights that might occur.

Always try to keep your Requiem ready for drake or baron fights.

Try to always aim for 7-8cs/min in your games by farming well in lane, catching mid waves and farming jungle camps in midgame. Look to assisst your sidelaners with your Requiem. Always ping that you have your Requiem ready so teammates dont forget.

If you have both Exhaust and Flash up then you should win almost any teamfight. Often times your toplaner will splitpush and draw 2+ enemies to him while you assisst him with Requiem while you and your team burst down baron really fast, since Karthus has a high amount of DPS.

In some cases you can also use Requiem to cancel enemy recalls, for example when your teammates is going for a backdoor, since your liandry burn will cancel their bases for at least 6-7 seconds.
Late Game
Late game is usually a tough time for Karthus, since enemies will have completed Force of Nature, Maw of Malmortius and other MR items.

Your role is similar to midgame, you want to keep waves pushed out and group up with your team to fight. Always preserve your Requiem and Flash for upcoming objective fights.

At this point of the game, you should have reached elder dragon , which often decides the outcome of a game. Its incredibly powerful, especially for Karthus. Most of the time you want your team to engage first and follow them up with your Requiem or follow up by flashing into the enemy and suciding.

If your team has bad engage or the enemy has a heavy engage comp then you can also wait for them to engage on you and bait them with Zhonya's Hourglass, forcing the enemy to either disengage or keep commiting while tanking your Defile+ Liandry's Torment damage. In games like these its also really good to buy Rylai's Crystal Scepter to apply an AOE slow, effectively zoning the enemy team.

If you have Ghost or Flash then you can also take matters into your own hand and engage a teamfight by yourself, however you have to be careful since this can either lose you the game completely or make you win it on your own. As always, decisions like these will be easier to judge the more Karthus games you have.
Karthus is a very fun and forgiving champion to learn, however he also has a lot of skill expression the higher you go in elo.

If you are tired of playing ADCs and looking for something more fun and refreshing, or you simply want to play Karthus in a different role then this is the perfect guide for you.

I hope you managed to learn something and if you have any questions feel free to either DM me on twitter (@ChadKarthus) or ask me on .

See you on the rift ^-^
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