Zilean Build Guide by faraway9911

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League of Legends Build Guide Author faraway9911

CDR Zilean (3v3) - R-r-r-r-rewind!

faraway9911 Last updated on April 2, 2013
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Tear = Squishy



Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 4

Honor Guard

Defense: 0


Utility: 26

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Hi, this is faraway9911's Twisted Treeline! guide for 3v3 Zilean, focusing on CDR for support Zil with AP on the side.

Zilean has been played mostly as an AP mid recently on 5v5 summoner's rift, with varying degrees of success. This guide is NOT an AP Carry zilean guide. Instead, it focuses on building support, especially the combination of 40% CDR with Rewind spamming giving Zilean a 30 second ult.

This playstyle will usually give your team a strong lead early and mid game, since your Heightened Learning passive and exp masteries will ensure you hit level 6 quite early. Once everyone is at level 18 and your passive starts being useless, Zilean's presence becomes much weaker due to low damage output and squishiness. A risky pick, CDR Zilean is not for everyone.

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The math

Zilean's Rewind amplifies the effects of CDR on him, making building CDR more cost-effective than on any other champion.

Suppose your Rewind is maxed, which usually happens around level 10. At 0% CDR, the cooldown on Chronoshift is 180 seconds. But you can spam Rewind every 6 seconds; in other words, every 6 seconds, the cooldown on Chronoshift decreases (6+10=16) seconds. Hence the effective cooldown at 0% CDR is

180 * 6 / 16 = 68 seconds.

Now consider Zilean at 40% CDR. The cooldown on Chronoshift is now 108 seconds, and Rewind's cooldown is down to 3.6. Using the same calculation, we get that the effective cooldown of his ult is
108 * 3.6 / 13.6 = 28.6 seconds!
Note that the percentage decrease from 68 to 28.6 is a whopping 58% CDR! Hence it is in your best interest to hit the 40% CDR cap as quickly as possible.

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Theory behind it all

As I see it, Zilean is the perfect champ for 3v3 Twisted Treeline.

  • Individual champions' lives are worth more in 3v3 than in 5v5. Do the math: a 4:3 ratio is a bigger lead than 6:5.
  • TT games are usually shorter too, with less total deaths. Meaning if you can prevent, say, 5 out of 10, that's a huge advantage for your team.
  • Keeping with that point, Heightened Learning reaches its fullest effect right before your team hits level 18 and thereafter becomes useless. Since TT games are usually short this is great for him.
  • With less players on a team, each champion has to cover more roles. As Zil is an excellent AP Carry/Support hybrid.

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Pros / Cons


  • Saving your teammates lives gets them fed and your enemies dead.
  • Great mobility - with Rewind and Time Warp he can maintain 500+ move speed.
  • AoE Time Bomb is great for damaging all your enemies at once, and also for very quick clearing of minion waves.
  • His "double slow" Time Warp- Rewind- Time Warp-Repeat can catch anyone.
  • Max cooldown of 3.6 seconds on Rewind ==> SPAM ALL THE THINGS!
  • Very vulnerable to lag.
  • Incredibly mana-hungry.
  • Squishy and easily focused.
  • Low damage output.
  • If you haven't won by 30 minutes, you've basically lost.

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I usually go 4-1-25 for support-CDR Zilean. Intelligence and Sorcery get you 10% flat CDR, and Awareness synergizes extremely well with Heightened Learning. And of course he really needs the mana and mana regen from Expanded Mind and [[Meditation].

Frankly, this is basically the only viable build I see on Zilean. Going 21-0-9 drops him down to 4% CDR which means you won't be maxed out at 40% with these items. The health regen from Strength of Spirit is great since you have such a tremendous mana pool anyways, and Nimble and Wanderer help you reach your allies in a teamfight that much faster.

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Basically the only viable choice.


Great for solving Zilean's mana problems. Levels 6-10 are when he gets really mana-hungry, so there's not much point subbing these out for flat mana regen.

Greater Seal of Vitality
Helps resolve some of the squishiness, but not as useful overall.


Some AP is great on Zilean early game as well as late-game.

More CDR (5.9% flat, 8.1% at lvl 18). See CDR section for details on how to get a lot of CDR without exceeding the cap too much.


An extra 4.5% movement speed on Zilean, and he needs it to properly support his allies and land his Time Bomb and Time Warp.

4.8% flat CDR, 6.9% at lvl 18. Again, see CDR section.

Gives Zilean even more experience, to stack with his Heightened Learning and exp masteries.

AP, if you're leaning towards more damage late-game. Not recommended.

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Skill Sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Pre-6, I take Time Bomb first for damage, Rewind next to enable the Q-W-Q combo, and Time Warp for utility. I take one more level in Time Bomb at level 4 for a bit more damage. Another option here is taking Rewind 2-4-5 to max Rewind faster. You can also take Time Bomb levels 4 and 5 if you want a lead early game.

After that, it's > > = to ensure maximum usage of that wonderful ult.

If your carries are doing well you should probably max Time Warp first to support them better. Also if you went for Ionian Boots of Lucidity instead of Sorcerer's Shoes then your MP is not high enough to warrant the extra damage from Time Bomb.

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Summoner Spells

Viable Summoner Spells:

By far the most useful summoner spell there is. Unfortunately CDR doesn't work on summoner spells, (lol), but this is still insanely useful on Zilean for getting out of sticky spots, and for Flash- Chronoshift combo on an out-of-reach teammate.

Anti-burst spell, to help you from getting focused down too easily.

Great for securing kills; early-game, Ignite and 2 Time Bombs means you can walk away from an enemy that is already dead.

Useful for shutting down AD carries and bruiser/dps's. Less useful since you already have Time Warp which can be spammed with Rewind for a better slow.

Situational Summoner spells:

Ganks happen much more often in Twisted Treeline, but that also means everyone is expecting them already, especially since there's not really a laning phase for very long. However, this can be quite useful since there are no longer any wards on Twisted Treeline.

This may be sufficient for the mana costs of AP Zilean, but is certainly not for CDR Zilean. However, it may make replacing Tear of the Goddess with say Catalyst the Protector more viable.

This may come in handy against a heavy-CC team; however, Zilean can escape most sticky situations with Rewind and Time Warp, and if he gets focused Cleanse is not enough to save him anyways.

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Items and CDR

CDR comes from 3 sources, masteries , runes , and items.

Masteries: 9-0-21 gives 10 CDR, and going 21-0-9 gives us 4.

Runes: 5.95 flat / 8.1 scaling from glyphs, and 4.92 flat / 7.02 scaling from quints. This can give up to 11 flat CDR or 15 scaling CDR.

But note that the scaling CDR runes only catch up to the flat runes at around level 13. I would argue that the flat CDR runes are better for our purposes since it gets us a nice boost early game as well.


I'll list here the viable CDR items on Zilean together with their CDR and their cost-effectiveness.
I'll list here some possible combinations of masteries, runes, and items that lead to a quick 40% CDR.

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Items and Mana regen

This is the staple of most CDR zilean builds. It's virtually the only way he has enough mana to comfortably power Rewind spamming at level 6 and above, and luckily for you, this means that it charges extremely fast. By the time you upgrade into Archangel's Staff, it should immediately transform into Seraph's Embrace, offering ~90 AP, 1400 mana, and a comfortable 10 mana regen.

Catalyst the Protector This simply doesn't provide enough mana or mana regen to power CDR Zilean spamming. Although it does give a very nice health bonus, it needs to be coupled with a Philosopher's Stone or Clarity.

Viable on CDR zilean, but only if you're okay with going around with low mana most of the time. Also multiplies mana regen from other sources such as Philosopher's Stone, and of course builds into the wonderful Athene's Unholy Grail.

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Late-game items

Support items with auras are not as cost-effective 3v3 as 5v5 simply because there are not as many champions to affect. Thus, it makes more sense to go for a pure AP build late-game for CDR Zilean.

Keep in mind most 3v3 games don't last long enough to buy more than 1 or 2 of these items.

If you haven't built these already, find some extra CDR ( Fiendish Codex is a cheap fix, and builds into Athene's Unholy Grail) so you can sell your Ionian Boots of Lucidity for these.

Passable as a source of MP if you don't plan on buying Sorcerer's Shoes. Also gives some nice MR for fighting against mages, but the 600 range aura is too short for back-rank Zilean.

Quite cheap, and gives MP, health, and AP. A great boon to your damage once you start leveling your Time Bomb.

This is Rabadon's Deathcap for Twisted Treeline. At the bargain price of 2700g, it offers +25% AP as well as a very nice 10% movement speed boost, and of course the active is absolutely perfect as well and goes with the timey-theme.

Only buy this if you went a lot of AP early-game and already have a Wooglet's Witchcap.

Another great buy on Zilean, since it goes with his time theme and also synergizes well with his ult -- pop it when your ally dies and the enemies won't be able to focus you or him during the 2-second revive period.

Useful in the occasion that there's another AP carry on your team and you want to support them some more. Keep in mind that if both of you build Will of the Ancients, both of you get double the buff.

Another source of damage for Zilean apart from his Time Bomb. Situational at best.

Gives health, AP, and mana, but not as much as Rod of Ages. Need to test how the passive interacts with Zilean's Time Bombs (does it start when the bomb goes off or when it is placed?) and Time Warp (does it proc?).

Gives Zilean some much-needed health, AP, and a mana bonus to boot. Goes well with ...

A lot of mana and MR, and AP that scales with max mana. Given that you build Tear of the Goddess quite often anyways, this is a very natural buy.

Gives some great HP regen and the 2nd-highest mana regen in the game. Does free up an item slot, but otherwise not that useful.

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A quick recommendation: When playing Zilean, ALWAYS use smartcasting. Always always always! With such a high-maintenance champion, the ~0.5sec delay between a key press and a click can be fatal to yourself and your teammates.

A great passive for supporting the team. The effect is barely noticeable at lower levels but quickly picks up. Unfortunately this is completely useless at level 18, so try to win before then.

This is one of the most versatile skills in the game, and extremely fun to play around with. It can be placed on virtually any object in the game: enemies, enemy minions, friendly minions, friendly champions, yourself, and [Caitlin]]'s Yordle Snap Trap or Teemo's Noxious Trap. Keep in mind it will only hurt enemy units.

Here are some common and not-so-common uses:
  • Waiting for your tank to initiate a team fight? Place it on him. It should go off after he's in the middle of the enemy champions, dealing AoE damage to all of them. Especially useful in level 1 skirmishes when your 10s cooldown feels way too long.
  • Enemy team pushing your lane? Bomb a minion that's about to die, and it'll go off in their faces.
  • Trying to push a tower with an enemy chapmion under it, but scared of tower hits? Bomb a friendly melee minion and get it to deliver the payload. Try to do the 2nd or 3rd one in the line so the tower doesn't kill it immediately.
  • Place it on your own head and run into the fight. Suicide bomber Zilean, to the rescue!.

This ability is the heart of this build. It's the best cooldown reduction in the game, and it makes for excellent combos with his other abilities. Some examples:
  • - - - - ... etc.

    Cast it on yourself for excellent fleeing capabilities. Cast it on an enemy for a slow as hard as Wall of Pain and for as long a time as you can keep it up.
  • - -

    Your main damage combo early-game. Falls off mid-game with CDR build, but extremely useful for dealing AoE damage to minion waves.
  • - ... -

    As previously mentioned, allows 30 sec cooldown on Chrono Shift. You'd really only use this when away from combat though, since a better choice is:
  • - - - repeat.

    This is what you should typically be doing in team fights. Bomb anything, basically, haste any ally (or yourself), rewind. This burns through an astonishing 70 mana/second, hence the necessity of bucketloads of mana and mana regen.

An excellent slow/haste and, like Time Bomb, very flexible in its applications. I would recommend casting on allies rather than yourself whenever possible. Works wonders with already fast champions such as Rammus, Master Yi, Teemo, and Singed.

Saves lives. Note that the protection lasts for 7 seconds, which is a surprisingly long time. I often get applauded for good ult timing when in reality Chronoshift was cast ~3 seconds previously. However, the 2-second revive delay is something to watch out for. If you're fleeing alone and you cast this, without reinforcements it's likely that you'll die again once you revive. Prioritize reviving your carry, of course, but also remember that the recovered health is constant, meaning it's worth more, point for point, on a tank with lots of armor and MR than on carries.

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Team work and Twisted Treeline

It's important to tell your allies in champion selection that you're planning on going CDR zilean with a 30 sec revive ult. They'll probably assume you're going AP otherwise, as that is the more common build at this point. Your playing Zilean enables them to pick squishy AP or AD carries that are otherwise unviable on Twisted Treeline with the current bruiser/offtank meta. In addition, tell them that you plan on leading mid game rather than waiting late-game. Zilean doesn't work well with champions such as Tristana or Amumu that really only shine late-game.

During the game, make it clear when your ult is up; you can expect your allies to be surprised when you can revive again after 30 seconds. But be careful of being separated from your team; don't hesitate to spam Rewind- Time Warp on yourself to rush to a teamfight to save an ally. And never initiate a team fight, or even a 1 on 1; the time it takes for you to put a single bomb on an enemy and then Time Warp yourself away can be enough time for them to get you down to half health.

Stay at the back of teamfights before around lvl 15. You barely do any damage with Time Bomb anyways. Your main role will be to haste allies/slow incoming enemies, ult people near death, and maybe do a bit of baiting. The worst possible situation in a teamfight is if you get focused; your options are 1.) Ult yourself, in the hope that your allies will be able to kill an enemy or two in that time, 2.) Ult someone else and let yourself die; your team loses your slows and damage, but hopefully your ult will prove useful. You should NEVER, EVER die without ulting; you can't Rewind your ult when dead, so dying on a 30s respawn timer effectively doubles the cd of your ult.

Usually enemies will not focus you early-mid game once they realize you're not really doing any damage as an AP carry. This is good for you, as you can rack up assists like mad while making full use of your experience passive (which is not in effect when you are dead). Usually around mid-late game they start getting annoyed at your persistent Chronoshifts and start focusing you down, at which point you should ask your teammates for some help. Note that ulting yourself is generally not a good idea; you should generally be flagrantly altruistic, as your allies have much higher damage output than you do.

When skirmishing, Time Warp is your best friend. You should slow the enemy if he is outnumbered or fleeing; you should haste your allies if they are fleeing or outnumbered. If you can't reach a fleeing enemy, haste whichever of your allies is faster; the movement speed bonus will be enhanced on them. If a low-health enemy is retreating under a tower, you can even ult them to enable them to tower dive; Chronoshift lasts 7 seconds before disappearing unused, which is a surprisingly long time.

On that note, make sure to leave a bit of margin when Chronoshifting, rather than leaving it to the last minute -- lag is not your friend as Zilean. On the other hand, be wary of ulting too early, in which case the enemy team might decide to focus onto someone else instead -- you perhaps.

Altars are an important resource to control in Twisted Treeline. Note that both teams have vision on both altars, so avoid walking on top of them whenever possible. On the other hand, your own vision is limited when you are capturing an altar, so if possible, the squisher champion should stand and capture while the tankier one scouts around to forewarn an ambush. It's usually not worth it to aggresively capture an altar at the cost of deaths or recalling; the enemy team will then be able to recapture without too much difficulty, and your team will be unable to press the advantage in a teamfight.

Vilemaw, the spider boss, is not to be underestimated. Watch out for her aoe biting attacks and her web-pull. It is not inconceivable that 3 level 16 champions should fail to take her down, especially since CDR zilean doesn't do much damage and his Heightened Learning will make your team higher level but will not increase their gold income.

Pushing lanes in Twisted Treeline is also less risky than on Summoner's rift. It's usually quite easy to keep track of all 3 enemy champions. And since the lanes are parallel rather than diverging, pushing your lane actually gives you more opportunity to gank the other lane. Thus, Zilean shouldn't worry about only last-hitting minions, or giving the cs to the carry (except early game); it's in your best interest to push your lanes as hard as possible with AoE Time Bomb damage, and perhaps secure a tower or invade the altar.

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That's all for now, thanks for reading! Feel free to comment and vote, as this is my first ever League of Legends guide! Also thanks to jhoijhoi's Good Karthus Guide for an excellent introduciton to guide-writing.