Threats to Zac with this build
|Yasuo||One of the easiest matchups. Your Q slows affect his dash speed as well, making landing jumps especially easy.|
|Graves||Graves is in the same boat as Yasuo, but a bit more tanky. Get a Doran's shield to block massive amounts of damage from his pellets and he'll have a hard time doing anything to you.|
As a Zac main, I've experimented with many builds and playstyles for Zac. I've tried Grasp of the undying, Windspeaker's Blessing, Liandry's into full tank, full tank, support Zac, and more but among all those different ways to play Zac, Offensive Bruiser Zac is the most fun.
Because Zac has 4 damage abilities with high base values, he already does a massive amount of damage and doesn't need that much AP. With just base damages, Zac can deal 1400+ damage with just 1 cycle of spells which is enough to 100-0 squishies. The AP from Liandry's and Abyssal Scepter will add a fair amount of damage but Zac already has enough to make short work of anyone.
This is why we get these magic pen items: Abyssal Scepter, Liandry's Torment, and Sorcerer's Boots. Each point of magic penetration will bring you closer to dealing the full force of your high damage abilities.
After you get your magic pen items, you have a lot of room to build tanky. You don't need many items to 100-0 your targets at any stage of the game. As soon as you get your magic penetration, you can start building tank items that have synergy with your other items and kit. I've tried Void Staff, Deathcap, Ryai's, and other offensive items to increase Zac's damage but at a certain point of the game, you can't afford to be less tanky with no escapes and a huge hitbox.
By late game, you're almost as tanky as a traditional Zac but you have immense kill pressure on the enemy's backline.
Many tanks kill other tanks or peel better than you but one thing they can't do is fly across the map, land on the enemy backline, and 100-0 their carries, all while peeling yourself with your 4 ult bounces and movement speed. Because of this, your element is diving. Peel when you have to but always look for opportunities go HAM on enemy squishies.
Flash Always necessary. Flash will help you dodge important skills as well as land unexpected ult bounces. Protip: You can Tap E then flash to instantly close the gap and knock up an enemy. Definitely practice this trick a bit to get used to it.
Ignite has amazing synergy with Cell Division. In a close fight, especially near minions, you can pop ignite before going into your passive and force the enemy to back off. Ignite also does true damage which synergizes with Unstable Matter. Building MR counters Unstable Matter but does nothing for Ignite. Building HP counters Ignite but doesn't do much against Unstable Matter. It provides immense early kill pressure and lets you risk 0 hp but still get the kill.
Teleport is a great spell that's meta but Zac doesn't benefit from it as much as other champions because:
* It's hard to force you out of lane. If you still have your passive, you can heal up on enemy minions under tower. If you just won a fight, you can collect some blobs and be at half health. Essentially, you have to back less as Zac.
* Zac has mobility built into his kit. At max CDR and max E, you can cross huge portions of terrain to rotate to other lanes. Teleport will get you there faster but you can still get to places without it.
* Zac can't gank "out of the box".
Update: With the TP nerfs, this spell is now completely obsolete compared to ignite or exhaust.
[[Exhaust] is a situational spell that can save your life. In tight situations, Zac thrives because his spells cost next to nothing at low HP and he can recover large amounts given the time to generate and collect his blobs. Exhaust will give you that time by reducing the enemy's DPS and mobility. Zac's tendency to stack HP also makes Exhaust's damage reduction more valuable. Against tough AS-based champions (Kayle, Irelia, Riven), Exhaust is definitely viable. The resistance and mobility reductions are also big offensive boosts.
*Updated for patch 6.23
Bruiser Zac's masteries optimize damage output without sacrificing lane power.
New: I now take MPen reds, Scaling HP yellows, 6 scaling CDR and 3 scaling MR blues, and 3 Armor quints. MPen is the best thing marks can do for you. Scaling HP seals are very efficient and smooth out your mid-late game. Armor quints are extremely efficient and give you the most bang for your buck out of possibly all types of quints. Plus, armor is a useful stat even against AP for auto and minion damage mitigation. I sacrifice 6 glyphs for scaling CDR because if I need early MR, I can get tons from Abyssal Scepter's build path.
Here are comparisons between significant masteries:
Wanderer vs Savagery
Keep in mind if you Savagry helps you secure 4 cs you wouldn't have got, it's more valuable it than Wanderer.
New: I now use Wanderer to travel the map a bit faster and position myself for trades. You can still use Savagry if you need it but if you can CS fine without it, Wanderer offers much more.
Keep in mind that gold value does not equate to practical value. After all, if we could, we'd trade the AP from Haunting Guise for Magic Pen any day.
Explorer vs Tough Skin
This is a matter of preference and matchup. In general, Explorer is better because it offers you more power in lane with bush juking + positioning and helps you roam paired with Wanderer . Tough Skin , however, is better in a straightforward fight and the damage reduction stacks very well with Doran's Shield. If you're in a melee matchup where bush play won't be that important and minion aggro will probably be proced by trading autos, take Tough Skin. Otherwise, Explorer is more valuable by helping you dodge, poke, retreat, and roam.
Runic Affinity vs Veteran's Scars
Runic Affinity is why we go down the resolve tree. It makes laning so much easier and can save your life in a close fight. Plus, it stacks multiplicatively with Spirit Visage which is core on Zac for the same reasons Runic Affinity is.
Intelligence vs. Precision
Extra magic penetration is always good but Intelligence not only increases your damage output, it also makes you tankier and churn out CC like no tomorrow. The extra 5% CDR gives you more sustain in lane, makes farming easier, and is overall too great of a mastery on Zac to pass up.
Thunderlord's Decree vs. Courage of the Colossus
This is a tricky one. On tank Zac, CotC is undoubtedly better with its massive HP scaling. On bruiser top Zac however, I prefer TLD because it helps me all-in and trade better, and adds quite a bit of 100-0 damage when I go for the enemy backline.
Skills and Combos
First, an overview of Zac's skills and which to prioritize upgrading:
Stretching Strike (Q)
This is your bread and butter in the lane. Leveling it up increases the slow and damage plus decreases the cooldown so the more points you put into this skill, the more each point increases its value. Get Q at level one and max it first.
Protip: If you Q as you reach 0 HP and turn into blobs, the Q will still land. This is useful in 1-shot duels where you can flash and die to an enemy ability but still get the kill by landing the Q damage.
Unstable Matter (W)
This is your one-point wonder. You can leave 1 point in this skill and have it still deal a lot of damage and generate just as many chunks. Get W at level 2 and max it last. While this ability scales very well with levels, reducing the cooldowns on other abilities is more important but at max level, the damage from this ability is really overwhelming. In a rotation of your kit, you'll be able to cast W 3 or more times and deal over 30% of the enemy's max hp with all the magic pen and AP you have. Use it for extra damage in fights and to aid you in last hitting (W as your attack animation lands).
Elastic Slingshot (E)
Elastic Slingshot is your big gap closer to get in and assassinate the target. Unlike other gap closers, you can use it from outside of a champion's vision radius. A large part of your damage comes from landing this ability so make sure you do, but using it for mobility or getting closer to the enemy can be beneficial too. Max this 2nd for a massively decreased cooldown, increased damage, and extreme range. Consider learning it at level 2 if your jungler comes for an early gank.
Let's Bounce! (R)
If the rest of your abilities don't kill your target, this ability will. Not only are you dealing 700 damage by landing the 4 bounces of this ability, you're also generating blobs at a rapid pace letting you cast W many times. By the end of Let's Bounce, you'll have done at least 30% of the target's maximum health from all the CD resets you get from blobs.
Let's talk about the combos/tactics for skills.
Standard Lane Trade Combo:
Q -> E -> W
Since we're maxing Q first and will be casting E from within the enemy's vision, applying some initial CC is invaluable for landing the E. As soon as you land your E, the enemy will be knocked up for 1 second so W to proc Thunderlord's and back away until your CD's come up again. You'll have done loads of free damage and generated a lot of blobs to heal from.
Safe Lane Trade Combo:
Q -> W -> E
Against certain matchups with hard CC like Darius and Irelia, save your E to either get away after they use the CC or to disable them while you're most vulnerable. Sometimes you can auto instead of E to proc Thunderlord's and keep that important ability off cooldown.
Q will apply soft CC to let you get in W range. Try to grab your blobs while the enemy is slowed.
Laning All-in Combo:
Q -> E -> W -> Reposition -> R -> Spam W
An extension of the Standard Lane Trade Combo, this lets you follow up on the E knockup by knocking the enemy to a worse position (i.e. away from his tower). During your ult, make sure to collect blobs to reset your W cooldown and deal tons of %max hp damage.
E -> W -> Q -> R -> Spam W
After you get levels in your E, you'll have some ridiculous range to engage from. It's very important to E from out of vision when engaging because Zac's E is easy to dodge or disrupt when expected.
Miss your E and you might end up in a tricky situation due to your lack of gap closer. Land your E and you have your target locked down right next to you.
In the Theory section, we discussed why we get magic pen items but here we discuss the specifics of the build.
There are 3 viable starts, all centered around poking and a strong all-in:
2. Doran's Shield + 1 pot
3. Ruby Crystal + 2 pots
Against most AD matchups, you should go with build 1. The exception is when the sustain and damage mitigation from Doran's Shield is better in the matchup. Against Jax who also does a fair amount of magic damage, I get Doran's Shield. Irelia also comes to mind with her 3 single-target spells and true damage.
Against most AP matchups, you should go with build 2. This is because Null Magic Mantle + 1 pot provides no armor and little health - both of which are important early game. Many AP mages will rely on autos to poke you and many of them have single-target spells so Doran's Shield is not a bad start against them.
Some AP matchups will do little damage that can be mitigated by Doran's Shield build 3 will be a better buy. Max HP is not a bad stat and will help you sustain and survive all-ins so don't be scared to start with these items. Use this start against champions like Lissandra and Cho'gath. The Zac vs Zac matchup is actually a perfect example of when to use this start since all of Zac's abilities bypass Doran's Shield's damage mitigation and the extra HP counters from Ruby Crystal counters ignite and helps you sustain through his poke. Just make sure you get that MR ASAP.
Refillable Potion Buy this if you have the gold to spare. It's an extremely efficient item that already pays for itself if you bring it to lane once then sell it.
Unless you're very ahead, the first big item you should work for is Sunfire cape or Abyssal Scepter depending on your matchup's damage type.
Sunfire Cape has decent stats to help you with laning. Sunfire's damage gets increased by magic pen and amplification so it has great synergy with the build.
Abyssal Scepter gives you a lot of damage from both AP and damage amplification but more importantly, it lets you soak a lot of the enemy laner's spells. Like Sunfire Cape, get it for the stats before the passive. This item is still very viable after the move of its MR reduction to 10% damage amplification. After all, we get MPen to amplify our base damages.
After you have some resistance to physical or magic damage from your first big item, you'll be able to stay healthy in lane and build a Haunting Guise. It offers some HP for more sustain and all-in power and gives you all its useful stats off the bat.
After Haunting Guise, buy Sorcerer's Shoes. This is cheap option for magic pen will give you a decent chunk of movement speed for roaming and top off your offense. If the enemy laner has started stacking MR, don't buy Sorcerer's Shoes since the flat MPen is mitigated. Buy Ninja Tabis or Mercury's Treads if needed.
At this point, you'll be doing enough damage to 100-0 most squishies. Build full tank so you can take the beating you're inevitably going to get in mid game teamfights. Certain tank items have a lot of synergy with Zac and this build. Get a Sunfire Cape if you don't already have one.
Spirit Visage is a must-have tank item on Zac and make you much harder to kill in fights. Only get it when you need the MR though.
Zhonya's Hourglass is the alternative to Spirit Visage when you need more armor and not MR. It offers just as much survivability but in a different way, allowing you to buy even more time for yourself in addition to your passive revive. Something to note is that Let's Bounce! works while in stasis! If circumstances permit, you can deal all the bounce damage on an enemy while being invulnerable.
Thornmail deals loads magic damage against attack-based champions. With your magic penetration, they'll kill themselves before they kill you.
Now that you have all your core items, consider completing your build with one of the following luxury items:
Randuin's Omen's slow is great for sticking to people during your ult. On top of the very useful active, it provides exceptional defensive stats. A top notch item that scales really well into late game against ADC's.
Banshee's Veil provides excellent stats and will block the Thresh Flay or Janna Q that would otherwise prevent you from landing Elastic Slingshot.
Liandry's Torment is a great item. The %HP damage is useful against tanks and will almost always be working at peak efficiency because of all of Zac's CC. Using Randuin's Omen during Zac's ult will further extend that situation.
Void Staff Void Staff is an excellent mid-late game item for Zac but often becomes a "7th item" that you can't fit into your build. If you have another dive tank on your team to go in with you, consider sacrificing some tankiness to get Void Staff.
Zz'Rot Portal This is your get-out-of-jail-free card. Messed up the all-in and took 1 too many tower shots? Getting camped? Up against Illaoi? Work for Zz'rot and transition into a tank build so you can still be valuable to your team via lane pressure, CC, and damage soaking. The movement speed allows you to recall and get to lane faster. The active keeps your turret alive and the strong enemy laner contained in your lane. The stats are excellent for mid-game teamfights and are very effective if the jungler camping you is of a different damage type. With your passive, you'll be able to stay safe top lane and stalemate the matchup.
To use Zz'rot Portal, hide it behind your outermost turret to prevent enemies from easily killing it. If you can start a fight in another lane, plop it down immediately in a bush or tower then go fight. The portal doesn't have to be protected because if someone comes to kill it, the enemy will be 1 man short. If somebody doesn't come, the Portal will push the lane. At best, tower damage is dealt; at worst, your tower is protected.
Items NOT to get
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is tempting because it provides decent stats and a very oppressive slow. The slow is redundant because most of Zac's abilities already apply CC. The only time the slow is useful is during Zac's ult after the first bounce to help him stick to his target. The high AP isn't optimal on Zac because he scales better with magic pen as mentioned before.
In all cases except when the enemy team has no AD threat, Randuin's Omen is superior, making you much tankier and providing a slow for the duration of your ult. The AP on this item is high but not a priority stat for Zac.
Dead Man's Plate provides good stats but like Rylais, it can't be used at its full potential on Zac. Chances are, you won't have the time to Q and Auto after landing your E because you need to keep the enemy under hard CC at all times to position around him and prevent him from dodging your ult. The movement speed is nice but unneeded when you already have so much sticking power and you don't use movement as a gap closer. Sunfire Cape provides loads of consistent damage and Randuin's Omen provides a similar slow that activates instantly and lasts for much longer. There is never a situation where I would buy DMP before either of those 2 items.
Hextech Protobelt seems like a great item. It offers HP, CDR, and stickiness + burst damage in a neat active - all for a very fair price.
This item would be absolutely core on Zac if not for 1 fatal flaw: You can't use it while ulting. Your ult blocks out abilities like Q, E, and Protobelt so you can't use this item to stick to and finish off enemies during that crucial period. Imagine how sick it'd be to knock someone back then immediately Protobelt on top of them to dish out the remaining bounces.
By level 3, you have a slow, a knockup, a decent amount of burst with TLD and ignite. Might as well secure the kill and generate a 150g assist by asking your jungler to help out. Be a good laner and notify him of enemy wards as well as your preferred gank path. Also, you should be the one to engage with your CC. Poke the enemy down with Q's and E -> Flash to guarantee the kill if you have to. If you have a lot of kill pressure on the enemy, prioritize that kill pressure and don't be afraid to lose CS for landing damage on the enemy.
Late Laning Game
Mid-game, set up tower dives with your jungler if you have your passive up. Play extremely aggressively to extend that lead because you can. Take tower aggro then go HAM on the enemy laner. Zac does notoriously little damage to towers so encourage your jungler to help you take down the turret if you can.
When tower diving is not an option, shove your lane then roam. Mid is the most viable lane to roam to via river, but you can always recall then gank bot lane when dragon is up to win big for your team.
In team fights, prioritize jumping on the enemy backline, especially if your backline is less relevant. Wait in the shadows for them to approach your front line or carries then engage and knock them into your team. You'll have mispositioned them and chunked them for at least 3 quarters of their health to be finished off by your remaining bounces or your teammates. Also look for pick opportunities on anyone overextended, especially at lower elos.
If you have a fed carry, consider peeling for him. E onto the enemy divers, Q them to help your ADC kite, then continually auto and W them. If the need arrises and they get close to your ADC, ult to once again create space. It's important to save your ult and not chain it with your E when you peel. Unlike backline assassinations, peeling requires spacing of abilities and target changing.
At full build, Zac is weaker than many other champions due to his reliance on base values and nerfs in slot efficiency to items like Zhonya's Hourglass and Banshee's veil. The point of the offensive build is to snowball your lead and not get to a point where both teams are full build. If you do end up here, transition into a full tank build with your core tank items plus Zz'Rot Portal and Guardian Angel (arguably the 2 strongest tank items late game).
I wish you many victims crushed under our deadly blob friend. If you have any questions or suggestion, please leave a comment! I'm really excited to read any feedback from you guys. I hope this guide helps you have fun with this playstyle as well and climb.
Feel free to add me on NA at Tesserzact :)
July 26 2016
- I HIT DIAMOND! Updated to better runes, masteries, and items.
November 23 2016 (patch 6.23)
- Wow this game has changed. I updated the build and masteries and improved several sections with what I've learned since the last update. I learned that while you have high mobility and 100-0 potential, you're not an assassin - you're a bruiser who applies loads of CC and soaks loads of damage on top of dealing tons of damage.
- Added Teamwork section