Jax is one of the old school top laners in League of Legends, and he’s gone through multiple ups and downs during his time on the Rift.
He’s notorious for being a tanky split pusher who has mediocre teamfighting skills but amazing dueling potential. He’s tough to kill due to sustain from Conqueror, his core rune, alongside lifesteal items such as Blade of the Ruined King. Unlike other champions who benefited from the new items, Jax remained quite stable with his build and typically opts for the same items.
While Jax is a great situational pick, he does have plenty of weaknesses to keep him under control. Here are the best counter picks to beat Jax in the top lane.
Jax has a decent early game but excels later on once he gets access to his ultimate and a couple of items. Your best bet is to keep him under control with various champions and by building the correct items.
Jax stacks up his Relentless Assault (P) attack speed buff, before trying to engage on you with his Leap Strike (Q) and land a Counterstrike (E). If his passive is fully stacked during this trade, you’ll lose quite a lot of health, especially due to the magic damage from Empower (W). The biggest problem when facing Jax early on is the mixed attack and magic damage he has. While some items can diminish a part of his kit, they might not help you against the other.
Early on, Jax does a lot of physical damage, so itemizing for armor is better in the early stages of the game. But as the game progresses, he’s going to do more magic damage, so itemizing for magic resist is the correct investment later on.
Gnar is one of the most popular top lane picks currently due to his recent buffs. He’s a great pick against Jax with his ranged form, with which you can kite. And if you get into close range with your melee form, you can match his trades.
When laning against Jax, use your ranged form to slowly poke him down and avoid engagements since you’re quite squishy. Spam your Boomerang Throw (Q) to force him to play defensively and give up valuable gold and experience. If he overextends or goes for a creep kill, try to activate Hyper (W) by landing a couple of auto attacks for some additional damage. With no magic resist on his side early on, your Hyper damage will quickly add up and force him to either back or potentially die in the laning phase.
The toughest aspect of playing Gnar into such matchups is that they can always look to engage and punish you when you’re in your squishy form. Always pay attention to your opponent’s movements and try to predict the incoming ganks when you see Jax changing his playstyle. If you see him suddenly moving towards you, look to use your hop to jump to safety and wait for him to resume his usual playstyle.
By controlling Jax early on, you’ll have a better mid-game, where you’ll be able to join your team as a frontline. Jax will focus on split pushing and picking up towers most of the time, so it’s important to keep track of him and clear waves before you join your team. Look for flanks with a full rage bar to stun the enemy team in teamfights.
If no teamfight opportunities are present, look to match Jax in the split push so you don’t lose crucial towers. While it might be hard to kill him later on one-vs-one, you can make sure he doesn’t get your tower, which would open up a path towards your inhibitor as well. Keep that in mind and avoid dueling him later on, unless your team is nearby to assist you.
If you want a more passive counter to Jax, look towards Malphite. He has benefited a lot from the latest items and is a great counter to many auto-attack-oriented champions. You can pick up Sunfire Aegis and kill him with its passive damage while you farm up creeps.
During the early game, look to buy Plated Steelcaps and Bami’s Cinder. This will help you stop all his early-game damage while also having a good way of clearing waves until you get stronger. If Jax tries to engage you, you can easily outtrade due to how tanky you are on top of the amount of damage you can dish out with Bami’s Cinder.
As the game progresses and you get your items, Jax shouldn’t be a huge problem. You will become unkillable with how much armor and magic resist you’ll have on top of a huge health pool. Look to roam around the map and set up teamfights with your ultimates while Jax is split pushing. Avoid sitting idly in lane or matching him, since your ultimate is very impactful for teamfights and your team will most likely need you to win them.
If you played the lane properly and kept Jax in check, you shouldn’t have issues in dealing with his split push. Look to to clear the incoming waves, before grouping with your teammates. Even if your teleport is on cooldown, it’s important to retreat to the lane he’s pushing to clear waves since he can quickly take towers if left unchecked.
Kled is one of the best counters against Jax because he has a built-in healing-reduction effect and can get favorable trades early on.
Your kit as Kled allows you to use Jousting (E) to dash through minions to escape melee range if Jax engages on you with his dash. Afterwards, use Bear Trap on a Rope (Q) to follow up with some damage. On top of that, your attack-speed steroid in Violent Tendencies (W) makes your trades much more powerful compared to Jax’s. While he might excel in longer fights, if you keep making short trades, you’ll come out ahead every time.
By setting Jax behind early on, you can get an early item lead and use your Chaaaaaaaarge!!! (R) to roam around the map while Jax is stuck in the top lane farming up creeps. This roaming playstyle can quickly snowball your teammates and set a clear path to victory. While you might lose a couple of tower plates or creep kills in the top lane, the advantage built by helping your teammates will pay off in the long run. A fed ADC should be able to shut down Jax in the later stages of the game, so setting them up to be ahead during the laning phase is a good plan to success.
If you made short trades correctly in the laning phase and snowballed other lanes, you should have an advantage in neutral objectives and towers. With this in mind, look to split push and pick up towers in the mid to late stages of the game. Jax will most likely look to match your playstyle since his teamfight impact is insignificant unless he’s fed. Look to clear waves and join your team with ultimate or Teleport while he’s stuck hitting the towers.
This is the boots option when facing Jax. It reduces a lot of damage from his auto attacks and give you much needed armor early on to make you harder to kill. The movement speed bonus is a nice addition, giving you time to try to escape Jax’s combo.
This is a great anti-sustain item against Jax and will damage him and deliver a healing debuff. You should acquire this if you’re a tank to put a stop to his sustain.
If you’re playing a bruiser, you can go for his item if you have some spare gold. It has decent stats for its 800 gold cost and the healing debuff can make the difference between a won and a lost skirmish.
This Mythic tank item will make you a ticking time bomb and force Jax to reconsider engaging on you. The amount of damage you can do with Sunfire Aegis is huge, especially due to its stacking effect, making it tougher for Jax to outtrade you early on. Considering he won’t have much magic resist outside his ultimate, this item can be a huge pain to deal with for him.
Goredrinker is one of the best Mythic bruiser items, allowing you to regain huge amounts of health. It gives you great stats if you’re playing Kled or Gnar for example, while also allowing you to survive Jax’s initial engage to be able to turn on him.