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This little buddy is probably by far the least played champion in the game. Even on his free week, it would be hard to find one out in the open. Frankly, it's not for a bad reason. A nuker is squishy..and a squishy nuker who likes to root himself in place is always going to be in a world of pain.
But I figured that the poor guy isn't actually as bad as one would think. Every champ has a counter, except one that can shoot you from the fog of war, really. The trick is to balance that sweet, sweet regen with your damage.
If you only build AP, Xerath, while having pretty amazing scaling, simply have a very hard time getting into fights. He's pretty slow, and not to mention loves rooting himself in place. Good job making yourself prime target, really.
Standing far, far away and only plinking away at the enemy's team isn't goint to help much either, since you have a very small window to damage people.
The way I balance this is to first try to anticipate where the enemies are going to attack. But getting caught would be a bad thing..so I don't even poke in until both teams are committed. That's where the regen comes in. See, Xerath MUST fire blindly into the dark, hence the need for regen (which most nukers do not rely on). Just walk up a lane, Locus>Arcano Pulse, then see if you DO hit someone. If no one is there yet, FIRE AGAIN! And keep firing that thang. If you fire enough, you're gonna hit someone eventually. Fire at neutral camps (you might just hit someone), fire at some far away bushes (why not? Bushes are evil). You're living arcane, for christsake, spew that lightning-death thing! (So if you have good regen, you can really keep this up for a long time. What most people doesn't quite realize is that your natural regen + an item or two will nearly outpace the use of only single spell on any mage).
Here's key no.2. Like a real man, Xerath must stare death in the face. After a few games with him, I learn that the biggest mistake you can make as Xerath is to walk up, Locus, Arcano, then unroot and try to walk away. No, no, no! You must root yourself further away, fire away (or if you know the enemies are coming, then fire when they're just coming in range). The key is to NOT unroot unless the enemies do charge. Your speed boost will ensure a clean getaway unless they make a beeline toward you, in which case they're going to end up eating your spells. That's when you whip out Mage Chain and Arcane Barrage.
Oh, and another tip--spam that Arcanopulse even while you're using AB. It will often comes off cooldown while you're casting AB, and not using it is just silly.
A good Xerath makes the enemy feels like they're fighting old Garen/Darius/Karthus/Cho..i.e. they're never safe. It removes their comfort zone. There's no safe place to regen, because you can hit them pretty much anywhere and everywhere.