Why Exhaust is Sometimes Better Than Ignite

Exhaust is underrated, and I don't get why everyone thinks that it's only for the support and some jungles. Everyone gets ignite.

I've seen a few tops taking exhaust and thought "why don't more people take it?" I decided to try it more on some tops and also as a carry and am convinced it is a viable and underappreciated option. I'm not saying you shouldn't take ignite anymore--I'm saying sometimes exhaust might be a better option, while the consensus is that it generally never is.

There's not much to say on the matter for junglers and supports, as they tend to use it. Mids are bursty mages, and while champs like Karthus have a good reason to use it, ignite seems to fit AP mids naturally. Their job is to hurry and burst a target down, and ignite fits in with that. Exhaust won't help much as you generally simply blow all your abilities and hope they die immediately, and if they don't, and it's barely, you want ignite for a finisher. The 2.5 seconds of exhaust generally isn't enough to get you another spell in, and that spell won't do as much. So, for mid I can say I don't wish to make the argument you should take exhaust more. It's possible you should, but I can't see why personally. And what about top, or the ad carry?

Tops Taking Exhaust

At top my jungler loves it when I have this as no matter what champion I am, I have a good cc that helps us to both wail on him during ganks. A jungler has 3 lanes and another jungler to account for, and his exhaust should be on cooldown frequently. To say you can get on them and then exhaust them to get the gank started will get you jungle attention and more successful ganks. It can also save you as well, as a flash out can lead to another flash from the enemy champs, whereas an exhaust can function as a second escape in small fights. Usually it's 1-3 people and only one is chasing you or can make it to you. You're going down the river, running as much as you can and Amumu or someone else with some gap closer is trying to get one more bandage on you. If he's exhausted earlier, he won't catch up and have the chance to use it again.

Some people it's not going to do enough for, such as Jayce or Lee Sin, since they have some pretty stupid escape mechanics that let them get away from multiple cc. Other strong tops, like Vlad or Irelia, will have flash and perhaps one other mechanism up, but afterward are sitting ducks from a nice exhaust, leaving them sitting ducks.

People aren't used to seeing exhaust. They expect a top that will ignite and then flash away. An exhaust is great when someone tries to tower dive you as it gives you the ability to avoid them for another 2.5 seconds. That's 2 and a half tower hits while they are 40% slower. Meanwhile, you flash out or walk away, surviving and perhaps even getting the kill. I've seen this happen more than once.

Late game, when other people have like 3000 life, ignite just signals for them to stall or run when they might not know better. Ignite means you are all in. Exhaust usually means you're all in, but not necessarily, and even if it is, it can be too late.

Exhaust scales into late game better for that reason and more. It is more flexible, and it gives more to your teammates. Yes, 50% healing reduction is nicer than armor/mr reduced by 10, but a 2.5 second slow and 70%/35% less damage on an enemy is way better in team fights. One game, the carry went in on us and got exhausted by our support, so he walked out and was at the edge of the fight. He walked back in and I exhausted him again. The rest of his team lost way more health from our carry in the meantime. It was a 5v4 for about 6 seconds. That is a long time in late game fights where everyone crashes together.

Exhaust on the AD Carry

Straight up damage to damage...let's say two level 9 carries hit each other for 5 seconds, at a rate of 6 attacks each. They each have 170 damage and 19% lifesteal (3 from masteries, 6 from 2 Doran's Blades, and 10 from Vampiric Scepter). One uses exhaust, and the other uses ignite. Both have 60 armor. Both have the improved mastery for these abilities.

The champion that uses exhaust and is ignited will have reduced an enemy with reduced armor for 2.5 seconds and will have only 9.5% lifesteal from the ignite. So, 3 of these autoattacks will do 170 vs. 50 armor, the other vs. 60 armor, at a lifesteal rate of 9.5%. (113 x 3 + 108 x 3)(.095) = 663 damage dealt and 63 lifesteal.

The champion that is exhausted and uses ignite will get 5 extra damage from the mastery, but do 70% reduced auto-attack damage for half of those attacks. The first three attacks are 53 each, then it's 175 three times. Lifesteal is 19%. With 60 armor, that makes 34 on each hit and 111 on each hit. (34 x 3 + 111 x 3)(.19) = 435 and 83 lifesteal.

The champion with exhaust that gets ignited receives 435 + 230 from ignite damage and gains 63 life for 602 damage sustained.

The champion that uses ignite but get exhausted receives 663 damage and gains 83 life for 580 damage sustained.

That's pretty close. 

But that isn't really how carrying works, of course, they will both be doing other things. Late game, the carry does so much damage that I feel an ignite isn't always needed, or even helpful. Late game, the previous scenario happens more often but the attack speed is higher and the damage is higher and exhaust does more for you. Exhaust can prevent an enemy from getting away from the fight so they can't leave and then come back. An exhaust on a Nunu ult can save more than one team member's life. 

Exhaust vs. Ignite

Again, before you say something so hateful that VVinrar decides to joke about it in ADV chat and on this posts and make your epic hate comment, I'm not saying ignite is always worse. I'm saying people feel exhaust is always worse, and I don't feel it's that clear cut. Sometimes exhaust goes really well instead. So then, lists on both.

Reasons to take Exhaust:

  • You or your team need more cc
  • You want to play more safely (an exhaust means you + teammates are less likely to die)
  • You think you'll get dived a lot (divers tend to account for ignite when they go in more than they do exhaust)
  • You are aiming for mid/late game and teamfights more than 1v1
  • You're facing tough-to-kill champs who need to be safely focused and it's hard to just burst them. Examples include Anivia, Cho'Gath, Amumu, Shyvana, Jax, Nunu, and Singed

Reasons to take ignite:

  • You are trying to snowball (exhaust can also help with this, but ignite is a more aggressive move)
  • You or your team need more burst
  • The enemy has a lot of champs that are squishy, have great aggression/juke skills, or other assassins, such as LeBlanc, Shaco, Fizz, Talon, Teemo, Katarina, Kassadin, Akali
  • The team has too many heals / lifesteal / spell vamp mechanics, or more importantly, are superior to you at this
  • The team is more ability-based. Fun fact: a sheen that doubles will only do extra 65% of it's buff because of exhaust counting it as an ability, so the reduction happens twice--70% off of the attack, and then only 65% of the proc. That means a regular attack deals only 30% of what it dealt, but a sheen proc is reduced less--100 regular damage would only be 30, but 200 sheen damage would be 95 (30 + 65), which is not as big a reduction. That ends up being only half. Anyway, translation and usefulness factor means Corki with Triforce, bombs, and missiles is not affected as much by exhaust as Caitlyn is with just autoattacks and her passive, or a Graves who just got done using his buckshot.  

Also, remember that cleanse removes both, except the healing debuff on ignite.  

If you've taken exhaust as the carry or at top, let me know your thoughts. 

Old Man Eyebrows

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  • #40 LordTarian

    I run an exhaust+ghost setup on all my toplaners (Malphite, Xin, Jax, AD Nida, Irelia). Early game ignite is better for 1v1 situations, but pretty much by midgame exhaust outscales ignite by a fair margin. If you're taking exhaust for toplane, avoid those early level all-in duels because chances are you'll lose them. Instead, hope for your jungler to gank. With exhaust, your gank will certainly blow the enemy flash and might STILL net a kill.

  • #38 Nash19

    That's funny. I run exhaust on some champions (I tend to play quite a few junglers with exhaust, mainly J4 and Lee), but I also sometimes run Exhaust on solotop Olaf (Ghost/Exhaust), or Yorick (Flash/Exhaust).

    I typically get Exhaust if I'm up against something like Irelia or Riven that will usually out-trade me and try to kill me 1v1. I can often kill people simply due to me having exhaust. Now that I think about it, I'll probably get Exhaust as Vladimir too. I just don't really see the point of Ignite on this guy anymore.

  • #35 insrtnameherenow

    I main Rumble top. 
    Jayce banned? Winning lane? With exhaust up in mid-game, you can 1v1 anything. ANYTHING. 

    The only time I take ignite on Rumble is against Vladamir or Swain or some other AP top that can't run away as fast as Kennen with a lot of sustain. I also find that with exhaust, Rumble beats Yorick, widely considered his largest counter, as long as you don't get ganked and die and it snowballs or something along those lines.

    I take exhaust against tops like Jax and Irelia 100% of the time. Anything that relies on autos can't all in you after around level 4 or 5 without getting killed in return. 

    If you have your ultimate and your exhaust, you can often stand and fight when you get ganked and win, even if the lane has been dead even. All it requires is positioning, which you can usually get by baiting them into a bush. It's quite hilarious and usually results in victory. Top or jungle or both will be flamed by somebody on their team the rest of the game and then play on tilt like 90% of the time.

  • #34 PhilNye

    I love Exhaust on Wukong top.  The Q redux along with the -10 flat reduction and arm pen from masteries/runes means you'll be shredding down their armor pretty hard early on, and top is a very hard lane to get away in if getting ganked and your lane is pushed/frozen.  Not only that, but diving a smart Wukong is very fool-hardy because of those decoy jukes and the sudden burst he can put on someone.

    Last edited by PhilNye: 10/26/2012 7:59:45 PM
  • #33 Michealmas

    I always take Exhaust over Ignite when in lane - i agree Ignite is an essential spell to have in the team comp but exhaust seems to be a far bigger boon to the team. Ignite is a good way to guarantee a kill on a single target, whereas exhaust has both offensive and defensive capabilities that can benefit more than one layer.

    Your AD carry is behind in kills, use your exhaust on the opponent to guarantee he gets it without risk of taking it yourself.
    Your snowballed mid laner is being chased down by the jungler but you dont have the hp to engage? Exhaust and watch him get away scott free.
    Need to shut down that enemy bruiser who's snowballed beyond a point where you can deal with him? Exhaust and kill off his team while he's out of action.
    Need a guaranteed kill on a gank, Exhaust and laugh when they try to flash away.

    Ignite serves 2 purposes; securing a kill on a low hp enemy and countering life gain.

    I'd rather have 3 Exhausts and only 1 Ignite on my team than the opposite, Exhaust helps everyone, Ignite helps you. And honestly im sick to death of being moaned at for getting a kill because someone else on my team had used their Ignite. When i gank, im doing everything i can to kill that laner. Ignite or no if i see the chance to guarantee the kill and force the enemy back to the nexus, im taking it, thats my damn job. I dont care who gets the extra 125 gold (ad carry being the only exception) so long as the guy is dead.

    One pissed off jungler

    Last edited by Michealmas: 10/26/2012 7:22:22 PM
  • #30 Su1cid3

    I use exhaust because you can use it defensive and offensive, works great on darius

  • #29 oconnomo

    I almost always go flash/exhaust when I play draven.  This is almost a guaranteed kill in lane if you get two spinning axes up since his burst is rediculous.  I go flash ignite on graves though since his early game burst comes from abilities that have longer cooldowns and the ignite damage gives me enough to finish the combo with a kill.

  • #28 zacharyfernande

    hey its eve here from before the patch


    you're a shit chogath

  • #27 Asbeel7

    As a top laner, I take exhaust when my main objective is to outfarm my opponent and snowball into late (tipically with champions like Jax or Irelia. Exhaust works great as an offensive/deffensive tool, while ignite is just offensive (but slightly better, I think). If you feel like the enemy team is going to fear your late (we have to shut that jax down before its too late), you will get ganked at least twice before lvl 6, and some more times after that. Ignite wont help with that.

    Also, as the article stated, I feel that exhaust is usually much better if you want to receive a gank.

    On the other hand, I always take ignite if I feel I have the edge early (yorick, darius) and I definetly want to go for a kill on my own asap or be scary as hell, since I want to take that advantage into mid game.

  • #25 SpacianEU

    I took Exhaust quite often on ADs recently. Not on AD Casters though (Ezreal, Graves, Corki), you explained why in your thougts about mid, these guys just want to kill people with their burst early on (unless your opponent has the better burst/fight composition, then taking Exhaust is an option here too), but on mid-late game oriented ADs it's a great way to survive the laning phase and get an advantage later on in teamfights. And their again, especially these mid-late ADs have problems escaping bruisers diving onto them (thinking of Ashe, Kog'Maw, Vayne and other ADs without [good] escape skills) where Exhaust is just huge.

    Not playing top too often, I still took Exhaust sometimes, especially if you think you're going to have a tough time. If you think you can kill or at least push your opponent out of lane on your own, Ignite might still be the better option. Thinking about Exhaust, I should test it on Yorick, Ignite helps killing people, but getting another 2.5s off of your CDs might be even better when chasing people.

  • #22 Bairis

    I tend to you use exhaust quite often. I would take exhaust in every game on Twisted Treeline. On summoners rift I prefer Cleanse if playing AD carry, but if I am going Mid or Top i choose between:
    Ignite + Flash;
    Ignite + Exhaust;
    Exhaust + Flash;
    Teleport + Flash.
    (Bold ones are those I use most often for Top, if mid with bursty caster I would go for ignite)

    I always take Ignite + Exhaust if I am playing a champion with good escape abilities (Fizz, Lee Sin), since they benefit from opponent being slowed which allows to both reduce their and increase my damage.

    Exhaust + Flash is a good option if you are playing a tank or you know you would have to innitiate fights (and if your team mates don't pick one). This option is good if you know that you would not be able to kill you lane opponent alone, unless he screws up badly (as stated in article exhaust makes jungler love you). Also I go for exhaust if I am confident enought that I won't get pushed out of lane often (otherwise I'd pick teleport).

  • #21 MerryLane

    I'll try it soon, tyvm for pointing out these nice advantages!

    Love you Eyebrow, coz you do really useful articles, unlike some that advice to "exercise" pffff :p

    Last edited by MerryLane: 10/25/2012 9:57:23 PM
  • #20 Deliq

    AD carries absolutely need ignite over some shitty exhaust which will get instantly countered by flash anyway. Ignite = guaranteed damage + free 5 AD. Exhaust = some random slow for 2s or so, does give almost no extra damage whatsoever.

    I was among first people who switched to ignite after heal nerf and was soon followed by the whole community. Main reason why ignite > exhaust is that it helps with damaging, securing kills and even last hitting a bit (5 AD for free = almost all three AD quints!!!). AD carries have shitty damage early and need to snowball hard in order to shut the enemy carry down and dominate themselves, so they need as many extra burst as they can get.

  • #24 DeepBurner


    Where do I start correctin'

  • #36 insrtnameherenow

    AD carries have damage. In fact, early game their damage is the highest out of everybody's. What they need for summoners is defensive cooldowns, like flash or heal or cleanse or exhaust. The only time you take ignite on an ADC is when you're in a kill lane and the opponents have either Sona or Soraka and an ADC that isn't Ezreal.

  • #37 mrobert5

    I agree that their damage is high enough early game, but bruisers have the HIGHEST early damage.

  • #18 cottonycloud

    For me, the problem with it is the small range. Playing AD carry will make it hard to use unless you are Vayne.

  • #17 Matthew50

    I used to Garen with ignite and exhaust. Works well until his rework.

  • #13 Honcheong

    I've used Exhaust at top lane with great success. Pairing Exhaust with Lee Sin/ Jayce/ Volibear/ Olaf make life for the Jungler soooo much easier

  • #12 Bystekhilcar

    The only issue I have with exhaust on an ADC is that you'll want your support running exhaust too. Putting heal on there would be illogical, ignite would risk them taking kills, and CV (whilst decent) is falling out of favour in the meta due to it simply not having quite the same game impact as other summoners.

    This then means you have double exhaust, which is fine so long as fights last long enough for them both to be used on a priority target, or else so long as you can force them to blow two summoners to your one.


    What I will say, is that people do underestimate exhaust on an AP mid. I don't generally run it, but this thread didn't really do it justice. The premise is that most mids (at least at <1600) are relatively predictable; for example, if you're on 75% health on a semi-squishy and the opposing Kat shunpos you, you can be fairly confident she's going to unleash her full burst. Exhaust basically nerfs her entire burst by 35% for the duration.

    The thread looked at it as '2.5 seconds won't buy you enough time for another spell'... but if the enemy cast all their spells during that period, you can turn a heavy burst into half-health while yours is hitting at full capacity.


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