Hydra Zed VS AP (Click other f
Normal Final Build
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.
Threats to Zed with this build
|Ezreal||Easy. Unless you're a potato, you should 100% win the lane. He can't outpoke you as long as you stay behind your minions. When his E is down, poke him hard. But be careful of ganks, if you're too pushed up. Make sure to signal if you see him using his ult into another lane. AP Ezreals deal dmg with their W. Make sure to distance yourself, because Ezreal's W has low range.|
|Karthus||Pretty easy. You can outpoke him, and at 6, you can go all in. Just be wary of his passive, and dodge his Q. Besides that, it will be an easy matchup.|
|Twisted Fate||Extremely easy. You have more pokes than him. At 6, try to go in when he uses his W on minions. Tip: Try to dodge his gold card by using R instantly. It will allow you to negate the stun.|
|Veigar||Just don't get stunned. You can dodge his W and Q fairly easily. Once his E is down, proceed to punish him for farming. When you hit 6, you should be able to easily kill him. Late game however, get a Quicksilver Sash. He can easily 100-0 you by pressing 3 buttons if you get stunned.|
If you guys would like to learn more information/mechanics after this guide, I offer Zed lessons on Skype, Curse, or in the NA servers. Feel free to add me and message me there. In addition, I post nifty Zed tips every Tuesday on reddit.com/r/summonerschool. Make sure to check it out each week for cool tips you can incorporate into your playstyle.
A Little About Myself/Montage
Hey guys, my name is Evanave. I'm a Zed main in NA and I have a Gold account in Korea (although it's probably unranked now) so I can play on it every time I go to Korea for holidays. Anyways, I don't really play solo Q as much and therefore don't climb much. Instead, me and my team participates in lots of different tournaments. Due to tons of ranked 5s practices that we do, I am currently only ay Platinum V. Although I may not be in high elo (yet), I play Zed a a lot and wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for how to play him.
I haven't had much time to play a lot of Zed lately, mostly because I was spamming Azir / Viktor to Platinum. If I had played only Zed like before, I would probably be at ~400k points.
P.S: I suck at using the bbcodes to get images. If you are a visual guy that can't read a chunk of text, I apologize. If anyone could help me out getting this guide sorted with pictures and stuff, that would be awesome!
My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSyq9iHyA8pQvgE69qWyuKA
Here is the types of champions and how they will be described in this section:
Midlane champions: They will be described fully, including how to lane against them, and how to outplay them. The difficulty rating is how hard it is to kill them/danger level.
Non-midlane ADCs: The method of the most efficient assassination is described. Also mentions how hard it is to kill them. The difficulty rating is how hard it is to kill them/danger level.
Non-midlane Bruisers/Tanks: The method of outplaying them will be mentioned, and whether you should really fight them or not. The difficulty rating is how hard it is to kill them, and whether you should go in on them or not.
In the matchup section, you will see all the champions you may consider going in on. However, for the convenience and efficiency, I will only briefly mention how to outplay and/or kill them if they are not a mid lane champion. If they are a mid lane champion, I will go over the specifics of the laning phase and how exactly you should play against them. Remember, the first guide showcases matchups with AP champions. If you want to see the AD champion tricks, click on the other build labeled Zed VS AD.
Introduction to the Guide
When I started out on Zed, I saw too many Zed guides that don't really explain or elaborate the reason behind item purchases, runes, combos or general tactics. I wanted to make a guide that is super in-depth. I hope all of you guys, regardless of experience/elo, all learn something new from my guide. Remember, this Zed guide is constantly updated. With every different changes to Zed both directly or indirectly, I will add more onto my guide. So, with that said, let's begin with why you should consider picking up Zed and some of his downsides.
Notes: If you're unfamiliar with every champion's ability, you may need to learn them because I refer to them using their respective keys (QWER) in the matchup portion of this guide.
Pros / Cons
Pros of Zed:
1. Champion with great outplay potential
2. Insane mobility
3. Insane damage to carries
4. Wins almost all matchups
6. Super snowbally
7. Highlight reels
8. Easy farming
9. Good dueling/splitpush potential
Cons of Zed:
1. Difficult to master/high skillcap
2. Becomes borderline useless when behind
3. Doesn't bring much to teamfights compared to other mid laners
4. Prone to CC and counterburst
5. If you get used to Zed farming, it will be so much harder to farm on other AP champions
6. Zhonya's is annoying to deal with (No more QSS ayy)
7. No hard CC
Flash is almost mandatory on Zed. It helps you juke enemies and gives you insane mobility. Pairing this with your W and R gives you 4 movement spells in total (Flash, W, R dash, R cast). Ignite is also amazing on Zed. Gives a lot of kill pressure, and it can easily help you finish off enemies a lot in lanes.
However, I wanted to add TP, exhaust and cleanse as considerable spells. While it is certainly lacking compared to flash or ignite, TP is great for splitting, and exhaust helps you kill champions such as Riven and Fiora, leaving little to no room for counterplay. Cleanse isn't bad against champions like Annie, Malzahar, or Lissandra, to remove their cc and kill them.
Zed VS AP Runes:
Basically the same page as Zed VS AD except instead of CD glyphs, take scaling MR, and scaling HP seals instead of armor.
The attack damage quints are obvious. Some people take more flat AD marks, but I like to have some armorpen for the tanks, and armorpen is also effective against squishies and the early Zhonya's rushers. The crit chance mark is there for some lucky plays, although you can remove it for another armorpen if you don't want to rely on RNG. The thing is, having the 9th armorpen red doesn't help that much. Having that crit chance may not always come to help you, but it is quite worth taking it. It's kind of something like "I don't expect it to crit, but if I do, then good for me". This crit may save your life or help you get a kill that you wouldn't have gotten. Against AD champions, 9 flat armor seals are very useful. Finally, I take 5 flat CD and 4 scaling CD, and at level 18, I get about 10% from the glyphs, which is pretty good. I don't like having too much CD, as Zed can run out of energy easily, so managing the spells and casting them at the right time is much more effective than spamming your combo and running out of energy quickly.
Zed VS AD Runes:
Same quints and marks. Since this is a rune page set up to play against AP champs, take seals of scaling HP. As well, taking the scaling MR helps with late game mage bursts.
In my opinion, there are two types of Zed masteries that you can take. They are either 12/18/0 or 18/12/0. Let me explain.
I see two options that you could go with the new masteries:
1. For the 12/18/0 with Thunderlord's as the keystone, you can take Sorcery, because this mastery page is based upon the damage you will do with spells and few autos. With this mastery page, I recommend Hydra. This will fit perfectly with the fact that you burst people in seconds.
2. For the 18/12/0, with Fervor as your keystone, take Fury. This will give you more AS to make your Fervor a lot more useful. This page is based more on the AS. Therefore, I recommend going BORK with this mastery page. This will give you more AS to proc the fervor along with the passive of this item which will give you on-hit damage on every autos.
With Thunderlord's, you can deal a lot of damage once you go in. If you are going for really assassin-y and focus and burst Zed, I recommend thunderlord's decree. It allows you to deal magic damage, which is very useful against armor champions. However, if you like to play constant damage/auto-attack Zed, I would recommend to go fervor for the extra auto attack damages.
Use Thunderlord's Decree if:
- You want to assassinate carries quickly/efficiently and get out.
- They have lots of armor stacking champions, the magic AOE damage helps a lot.
- You are going for kills early. The damage on thunderlord's brings surprising damage to unsuspecting enemies.
- You are going against a champion with lots of mobility spells, in which case only having 3 spells/autos will still deal a lot of damage before they can run.
Use Fervor of Battle if:
- You want to play Zed that fights, deals lots of constant damage with autos, and 1v1s duelist champions.
- You are against a champion without mobility spells, in which case you can stick onto them in order to autoattack, utilizing the fervor mastery very well.
Here, I put down the specifics of the abilities, what Zed's skills do for you, how to use them effectively, and some tricks you can do with these abilities.
Contempt for the Weak
On-target Cooldown: 10 seconds
Zed's basic attacks against targets below 50% of their maximum health deal 6 / 8 / 10% of their maximum health as bonus magic damage.
This effect can only occur on the same target once every 10 seconds.
Zed's passive is extremely useful for farming, and late game, it helps put insane dmg onto your ultimate. Make sure to land this on the target that you marked. In addition, remember that this autoattack will deal extra percent health magic damage, allowing you to do a bit more damage to those tanks and armor stackers.
Cost: 75 / 70 / 65 / 60 / 55 Energy
Cooldown: 6 seconds
Active: Zed throws his spinning blades forward, dealing physical damage to the first enemy they pass through and 60% damage to enemies thereafter.
If used with Living Shadow: Active shadows also throw a shuriken in the direction of the target point. Additional shuriken striking the same enemy deal 50% damage and restore energy.
Pretty straightforward ability. Obviously, Zed's shuriken deals the most damage in his kit, so max it first. Keep playing in order to familiarize yourself with its range and speed. After that, it won't be a problem landing those Qs. Note that this ability deals more damage the first time it hits a unit, so attempt to use them away from the enemy minion wave if you are going for the poke.
Cost: 40 / 35 / 30 / 25 / 20 Energy
Cooldown: 22 / 20 / 18 / 16 / 14 seconds
Passive Effect: Zed's bonus attack damage is increased.
Living Shadow: Zed's shadows mimic his basic abilities. If a mimicked ability strikes a target affected by its primary effect, Zed restores 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40 energy
Active: Zed's shadow dashes forward, remaining in place for 4 seconds. Living Shadow 2 Reactivating Living Shadow causes Zed to blink to its location, swapping places with it.
The ability that makes Zed versatile. You can use this to extend your poke range, escape, jump over walls/terrain, and outplaying your opponent. Like Zed's shurikens, try to get used to the range of this spell, and you can practice jumping over walls in order to not faceplant into a wall (I've done it too many times). Also keep in mind that it won't make you dodge any CC that is locked onto you (Taric E, Fizz R) unlike your Death Mark. In addition, this spell is a blink, meaning that you can use it to go through Azir's wall without bouncing off it. In addition, familiarize yourself with the distance you can reactivate this ability to swap places with it. If you wander too far, you won't be able to swap with it again, so be careful.
Cost: 50 Energy
Cooldown: 4 seconds
Active: Zed spins his blades, dealing physical damage to nearby enemies and reducing Living Shadow. Living Shadow's cooldown by 2 seconds for every enemy champion hit.
If used with Living Shadow: Active shadows also slash, dealing physical damage to nearby enemies and Slow icon slowing them for 1.5 seconds. Mimicked slashes that hit targets affected by the primary slash enhance the Slow icon slow by 50% and restore energy, but deal no additional damage.
This ability is basically a low cd spell that helps you deal consistent damage and guaranteed damage. You can also use this ability to help farm, since it is low CD, and extends your farming range by a tiny bit. Because you will miss this spell if they try to flash/run, it is very good to always E then try to land your Q after you marked them, since you can still land your Q from a distance. This ability also works Zed's autoattack into the ability, meaning you can E and auto at the same time. This will not cancel Zed's auto animation and allow you to auto E auto. However, it will help you deal more damage in a shorter time. Make sure to always E auto an enemy instead of an auto E, since if they are about 60% health, the E will bring them down to less than 50% of their HP, allowing you to proc your passive quicklier. In addition, when you are chasing down someone, remember to put your shadow, E first before swapping to your shadow, as this will apply the slow. Lastly, keep in mind that when your living shadow is down, your E will reduce cooldown on it by 2 seconds for every champion hit. Therefore, if you are stuck, for example in GA, with people surrounding you, use E and then use your W with the reduced CD to attempt to escape. Whenever you are being chased, you should also use E while running away, in order to get you W back up.
Cooldown: 120 / 100 / 80 seconds
Passive damage: 5 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 % of Bonus AD
Active: Zed becomes untargetable for 0.75 seconds and dashes behind the target enemy champion. Upon arrival, he marks them for death, is able to move through units for 3 seconds, and spawns a shadow at the cast location that lasts for 6 seconds. After 0.5 seconds, Death Mark can be reactivated to make Zed swap places with this shadow.
At the end of its duration, Death Mark triggers, dealing physical damage plus a percentage of all physical and magic damage Zed dealt to the target while they were marked.
One of the funnest abilities in the game. Late game, using this spell most certainly means a kill. Zed can also use this spell to quickly dispose of the opponents. If your laner is about 70-80 percent HP, and you are even, you probably can kill them using your R. This abilities also makes you go untargetable (not invincible), allowing you to dodge any abilities that may be fired towards you. What's more, is that it leaves a shadow behind for a free escape. So no matter how ham you go, you will have that escape route for 6 seconds. DM, if timed correctly, also allows you to follow your target. This means that good Zeds will time DM in order to catch up and nullify the enemy's escape ability. This amazing spell, however, will not be able to save you from DOTs like Ignite, and you will still die during your Death Mark (goes on CD too). One funny thing about this ability is that if you DM someone but they die before the application of the mark, you will get the ability back with a 5 second cooldown. As well, having a DM finish the job isn't always safe. Be wary of items such as Zhonya's or summoner spells like Exhaust, Heal and Barrier as it can reduce the damage of this ability. Remember that true damage like ignite won't count towards your detonation damage.
|Long sword is definitely the best start for Zed. Although Doran's Blade with a health pot isn't that bad of a choice against some champions, you should start with the long sword against most mid laners, because they will poke you when you try to go for CS. Unless you're super confident that you'll destroy the opponent mid laner, go with the long sword. With season 6, Cull has been introduced, and some players build it on Zed. I tried it out, but Zed is an early lane champion that needs to snowball with kills, not farms. It would be useful in a lane where you can't kill them often, such as Malzahar or Lissandra, but with some help from your jungler, you should be able to kill your laner and then roam. I guess boots are also nice if you get harassed by skillshot champions early, but most of the time I do well with my 3 pots and I find the 10 AD a lot more useful once I have my W. Feel free to go boots + 4 pots if you want a safer lane.|
|Some Zed players like to get the warhammer/dirk before getting the cutlass/tiamat, but I personally like getting the tiamat before warhammer/dirk, then finishing the tiamat into hydra. Getting the hydra gives you a lot of dueling potential, as it gives you extra dmg for your ult. If you go for a tiamat, then you can push better into their tower, and start roaming. Getting warhammer/dirk is good when you know you can snowball hard. Because warhammer/dirk gives you a lot of damage on your spells, it would be good to oppress the enemy mid laner. It is a lot more risky though, so I recommend building tiamat or cutlass first most of the time. If you play Zed correctly, you should win lane against most laners (except counters such as Malzahar, Lissandra, etc), which means you should be roaming to snowball even further. For that, you will need the mobi boots. If you're losing lane, ninja tabi or merc's treads would be cool too.|
|BORK is self-explanatory: It deals extra dmg and slows them from getting away. It is especially good in the tank meta against tanks that stack HP. However, with the introduction of season 6, I build BORK less and less. Now I mostly replace this with Hydra. We will get to this later, but if you're a beginner, I recommend BORK for the slow. If you're an expert, I recommend Hydra, because you can use combos and you will split much better. If you want a bit more tanky stats, I also recommend Titanic Hydra, as it gives you more survivability and adds lots of guaranteed damage, due to the extra damage being on your auto. Youmuu's allows you to get a speed boost for chasing carries down. The crit chance is extremely useful in late game. The lucidity boots are mostly better late game, as Zed will need CD more than speed. (Unless you're splitting, in which case stay with the mobis.) With the new item, Mortal Reminder, you can now kill a lot of sustain champs quickly such as fiddles, vladimir, or ADCs with heal. GA is just generally an amazing item for any assassins that risk their lives for enemy carries. Infinity Edge used to be very good paired along with YG. However, now that the YG no longer gives crit chance, I think that building Scimitar or Maw is a good option at the moment as well. Sterak's Gage is pretty good if you're finding yourself getting bursted too quickly. Elixir is also self-explanatory.|
|This list is all of the situational items that Zed could build. I was thinking of trying out Trinity Force, especially now that they removed the AP on it, which means that you will miss out on less stats (Just mana). It helps you stick onto your target due to the Phage procs, as well as your E+Auto combo being quite strong because of your Sheen procs. Bloodthirster isn't bad, but should only be built if you need the sustain in fights (which isn't really good because Zed is an assassin, but if you're fed, and you want to live longer to destroy them, feel free to build it). Most of the time, however, the BF sword should build into IE. Scimitar is very useful against champs that lock you down before you can assassinate the carries (Malzahar, Lissandra, Warwick, etc). Maw and Banshee's is super good against AP champs (Nidalee, Ryze, etc). Randuin's is a good replacement for GA when it's down. Merc's Treads are good if their team is AP, and/or heavily CC reliant. Dead man's plate is an awesome item on Zed, especially if you need that extra survivability in fights and the stickiness onto an assassination target. Berserker's Greaves isn't bad for splitting, because you can take down towers fast with Youmuu's, but generally I don't recommended it for serious play.|
Blade of the Ruined King VS Ravenous Hydra
In this section, I will talk about the very controversial subject between lots of Zed players: BORK, or Hydra? I will mention how useful they are and how one is better than the other in certain situations or playstyle.
BORK is an item that gives you enhanced all-in. It allows you to stick onto your target very well, and also deals that extra damage, which will be added to your Death Mark, and is magic damage, which means it is useful against armor-stacking teams. It allows you to go for safer and effective assassinations.
Hydra is an item that allows for aggressive playstyle. You will rely on your Death Mark less and more on your overall pure damage from shadow combos and autos. With this item, you will be able to deal a lot more burst damage, allowing you to snowball very hard. The passive allows you to split and clear very well, and the active also adds damage onto Death Mark. This also lets you deal some more AOE damage besides your E.
What's better? Well, it is hard to say. In my opinion, EVERYTHING DEPENDS on the situation. Don't have a solid mindset of buying a specific item every time. Instead, pay attention to how you are doing, enemies you're against, and mostly, your playstyle. I will tell you when I use Hydra and when I go for BORK, and you can try both of these items yourself and decide for yourself.
Basically, I like BORK whenever I go against an overall tanky team, or an ADC that can kite well. With the active, I can deal with tanks who stack health and armor, as well as sticking onto the ADCs. This allows for less kills/snowball potential, but way safer assassination plays, where you wait upon your Death Mark in order to efficiently kill people.
On the other hand, I like to build Hydra if I know I can win my lane. I build it to push into enemy towers and roam for map pressure. It also gives you a lot of damage which means that you can rely less on your Death Mark. This basically allows for more kills, but with a bit more risk as well. In addition, I build it when my team needs me to splitpush, so that I can clear waves faster.
Now, this is a very controversial subject between Zed players. Do you use your combo then R+autoattack to kill someone? Or do you R first then use your combo? In my opinion, it all depends. There is certain situations that you should use your combo first then R.
1. If your opponent has CC.
Your R can be used to dodge CC. TF stun, for example. In this case, I like to use my combo then get into their face, making them panic and using their CC to run. I predict the incoming CC and use my R to dodge it. If you R first, the enemy can expect where you would appear, and can use their CC on where you would appear. In addition, using R can dodge point and click CC, but W can't.
2. If your opponent has mobility spells.
Your R can follow your opponent during mobility spells, if timed correctly. For example, on LeBlanc or Kassadin, I use my combo first, prompting them to use their mobility spells, and I R at the right time and follow them to their destination to kill them.
An example of the "Sticky Death Mark":
3. If you are being pressured by ganks.
Using your combo first gives you something that using R first can't: A choice.
If you want some kills but think that there are enemies nearby, use your combo first. The good thing about using your combo first is that you have a choice to recast W to jump on your enemy, or give up if it is too risky. If you R first, they will know for sure you are going in, and they will be prepared for you. If you combo first, you have a full 4 seconds of time to decide if you should go in, and it can catch your enemy out unaware.
4. If they are squishy
Many people complain that using combo then R+autoing deals less damage then its alternative. If it is a squishy carry, however, and you're not behind, then it honestly does not matter: They will die regardless.
5. If they're running exhaust
The thing about being exhausted is that it will lower all the damage dealt. If you use your R first, your opponent will expect you to all-in them and immediately exhaust you, making your combo null. To mitigate this, using your poke combo will either make them
a)Waste exhaust in fear of you going in, in which case just hang back until you have W again in order to full combo them then or
b)Not exhausting until it is too late. If this happens, they will become way too low to survive much longer, make sure to go in and make them back the easier way.
An example of this tactic looks like this:
However, there are some times when R then combo is better then the alternative.
1. If they are tanky
If they are tanky, using R will allow your combo to stack up more damage for the detonation of Death Mark. Using your combo first then R+autoing may not do the trick as the Death Mark will have severely less damage.
2. If they can kill you pretty easily
If they can kill you before you are able to kill them, you might want to consider using your R first so that it can finish them off after you've died. For example, if they have no skillshots but are fed and can kill me quickly, I like to use my R first to have higher chance of Death Mark finishing them off.
Most of the time, I prefer to use my combos then R+autos, but in the rare occasion I fight a tank/high threat champions, I like to use my R first then follow up with combo for higher detonation damage on my R.
Note: Whenever you use W in lane, make sure to have vision or at least know where they were last seen, since without your W, you could get into a lot of trouble if you get caught by a gank or a roam.
Effective Use of Shadows
Now, Zed's ability to assassinate revolves heavily around the player's usage and the placement of his shadows. There are different situations that requires you to use your shadows in a certain way to maximize your damage and efficiency.
Situation 1: You are playing offensively while trying to go for a quick kill.
In this case, try bunching up your shadows in a single area. This will allow you to hit multiple shurikens easily, allowing an insane amount of damage on your Death Mark. If you know that your target is isolated, make sure to put your shadows close together, so that you can inflinct as much damage as possible to your target.
Situation 2: You are getting ganked / low on health.
In such cases, you will need to first evaluate if the situation is good enough to try fighting. If you have decided that you can take them on, spread your shadows further apart. Your shadows spaced from each other will allow you to make some fancy jukes and take less damage from AOE abilities. This will also bait your opponents into going one way, then swap back to your remaining shadow. This will allow more time for you to damage them instead of getting locked down and bursted. This type of shadow usage is also effective against melee bruiser like Riven, Irelia or Renekton.
Situation 3: You want to assassinate a carry in a teamfight.
This situation is a little bit tougher. Because the carries usually get protection, you have high risk of dying after killing their carries or worse, you dying for nothing. In these cases, save your W as much as possible. Try getting in R range without getting poked. If you successfully R onto the carry and burst them, get out with your R and your W that you saved.
Obviously, you need to maximize the effectiveness of your shadows. Some other nifty tricks that you can try is putting a shadow behind a wall. This will easily let you confuse your opponents by getting out of vision, then suddenly appearing out of nowhere and killing them. Remember, the placements of your shadows are the key to effective assassinations.
Effective Use of Death Mark
Death Mark. This versatile ability has insane number of uses. Defensive, offensive, escape, you name it. There are many tricks you can use with Zed's R. I will mention the 5 basic types of ways you can use, as well as when and how to use your ultimate ability.
1. Zed's R is known for it's stickiness. It makes chasing a lot easier if you know how to time your casting. For example, against a mobile champion, save your R and time it correctly to follow the target to their destination. This can be used against champions such as LeBlanc, Kassadin, Tristana, and Thresh's lantern.
An example of this:
2. Zed's R can make you untargetable. Use this to your advantage in order to dodge skillshots. If timed correctly, it will completely negate the damage of your opponents. For example, against Fizz, time your R as soon as his R is about to come up. Then, you will be able to dodge his entire R damage. (By the way, don't try dodging DOT abilities. It doesn't work.)
3. Zed's R has delayed burst. This means that you can trick your opponents. For example, if you R onto a champion, and they immediately run away, you can back off for a second, then, once your Death Mark is about to detonate, flash into them to get the Q E auto combo into the detonation. This will give the enemies a sense of safety. Once they think they are safe and start to play more aggressive, quickly deal the damage before your R pops. For example, you can pull this off against Ahri players. R in, and they will immediately R out. Back off for a little bit to give them the feeling that you gave up, and then proceed to deal the damage at the last second before your R kills them. This catches off a lot of people, even experienced players.
4. Zed's R can be paired with his W to juke your opponents. Your R, along with W will give you 3 mobility spells. Use these to escape your opponent. A good trick, is to switch back to your R at the last second, or sometimes, don't even switch back. Switch back to your R at the last second does two things: It helps to create distance between your shadow and your chaser, meaning that they have to travel further to catch up to your R shadow. Or sometimes, if they expect you to go back to your shadow, and is sitting on your R shadow, just don't go back. Remember, Zed's second proc of R is global, and no matter how much distance you are from the shadow, you can swap back to it. However, your W has a set distance in which you can no longer swap back. This is indicated by the arrow from Zed pointing to its shadow turning yellow then red.
5. Zed's R deals damage based upon the damage you've done beforehand. This means that if you are against a bruiser, using your R first will help, since you get more autos in while your Death Mark is on them. This will give you more damage than using the combo than using R, since you will not have the damage of your Q and E on your Death Mark.
Zed obviously has insane outplay potential with his multiple shadows. There are lots of different ways to make fancy plays on Zed. Two of the most basic ones are to use W R W R or R W R W with your Q, E and autos in between.
What W R W R does:
Basically, this combo lets you stay far away from your enemy. Whenever they come towards you, move to one of your shadows while damaging them with abilities. This is great when you are low, or against someone that either locks you down or needs to be in close range to damage you i.e. (Yasuo, Irelia, Lee Sin, etc). Make sure to land your auto if it is safe to do so. To do this combo, place your W somewhere and R to an enemy. Once they try to attack you, W back to safety. They will attempt to follow you or shoot skillshots at you, in which case go back to your R to finish them off.
Another outplay combo that you can pull off on Zed is the R W R W
What R W R W does:
This combo is mainly used during laning, when you're going all-in for a kill. This skill is useful against champions like Orianna, Brand, or Ahri. What these champions will do when you R into them, is that they will use their CC near themselves. If you pull this off correctly,you should be able to dodge their CC, then go back to finish them off. To do this combo, R onto them. Place a W behind them, R back to dodge whatever CC they will throw at you, then once you've dodged their CC, jump back to your W shadow to add more damage to your Death Mark.
Downsides of W R W R and R W R W:
Once you use either of these combos, you will be out of mobility (except flash). This makes the combo extremely dangerous under towers, because you can't escape afterwards. This is why these combos should almost never be used in teamfights, because you can't escape them after. These combos will not allow you to have the "easy way out" with your R shadow. These combos will exhaust all of your shadows in a single area, which is dangerous if you need to escape. Instead, use these combos in a 1v1 or 1v2 at the most. With more enemies than that, you should just seek to save your R to leave one way open to escape, or back off to find a more appropriate time to go in.
Using flash with your combos:
In higher elos, the players can often predict where Zed will appear after his R animation. They will attempt to exploit the fact that you appear behind them by throwing skillshots at the right time. If they time it perfectly, there is almost zero chance of dodging it using your W. This is the case that you should try to flash out, because your W has a cast time while your flash is instant. However, try to save it as much as possible. Your flash is valuable, and it is better to use flash as a last resort.
Prediction/Anticipation VS Reaction
One of the many questions I got asked when people saw my montages were: "How do you react so fast to other spells coming and use ulti to dodge it?" The answer is: I don't react to incoming skillshots. I anticipate them. While anticipation and reaction can yield the same result, more often than not, it is much better to anticipate and predict your opponents moves. Why? Let's get into that now.
1. Reaction takes a little more processing time. For example, let's say a Malphite is near you. If he was aggressive all game and you are pretty low, we can safely assume that he may flash ult. If you anticipate this, there is no processing time where your brain has to think: "Oh Malphite is ulting me". Instead, you know it is coming, so you prepare yourself and give yourself more time to ult and outplay.
2. Reaction may cause you to panic and misplay. If you don't anticipate your opponents all-in / CC, you may end up seeing them too late, panicking, and misplaying.
3. It's a lot easier to dodge CC with. Sometimes you may see a CC coming at you and you can't react fast enough. If you predicted the CC, you would have a much higher chance of dodging the CC.
It sometimes is less beneficial to anticipate. For example, when you predict an CC ability like Azir's R, but he saves it and uses it later after you appear from your Death Mark, you won't be able to dodge it. However, getting inside your opponent's head is a good strategy to anticipate and predict their movements. Once you can predict their movements and thoughts, you will easily be able to make fancy outplays, dodging their CC with grace. (And what seems to be an impossibly fast reaction time)
Mindset in Each Levels/Phases of the Game
Against Ranged / Counters: Try to CS as much as possible without your Q. Q has a long cooldown and can't be up for every single minion. Try to kill the melee minions with you autos and save your Q for the castor minions.
Against Melee: Try to CS with only your autos. Try to poke your lane opponent using your Q. A good trick is to quickly kill a minion standing between you and your target, then throwing a Q. They won't expect you to kill a minion that fast using your passive, and the Q will deal full damage (which is a lot)
Against Ranged / Counters: Try to get your W. This will allow you to CS better or poke your opponent a little bit. Don't spam the shadows though, as it will eat up your energy making you unable to CS with Q.
Against Melee: Try leveling your E. This will let you push into their tower or have early trades effectively against your opponent.
Against Ranged / Counters: This is the time that you can make or break your lane. Make sure to poke using your full combos whenever possible. Make sure not to spam too much, since your energy will deplete quickly and the jungler may catch you without your W up. If you can, try to get a kill or at least send them back to base.
Against Melee: Make sure to poke but also throw in some autos in between. This will force your opponent out of lane or get you a kill.
Against Ranged / Counters: Try to keep your CS up. Poke and get them primed for a kill at level 6.
Against Melee: Do the same thing. Poke and get ready for an all-in.
Against Ranged: Try hitting your 6 before your opponent. A good trick at level 5 to 6 is to have your experience bar almost full. Throw out your shadow to make it seem like your poking. Now, you have a 4 second window to get to level 6, level your R, swap with W and all-in your laner. This catches a lot of players off-guard, since people don't expect you to hit 6 while your shadow is up.
An example of this:
Against Counters: This is usually the time to either roam or call your jungler for some help. Unless they are at extremely low health, make sure to not go in if you know that their ultimate is up.
At this point of the game, your job is to either snowball off the opposing mid laner or to roam and help snowball other lanes. Look for a kill whenever your R is up, and if you are ahead enough, you should be able to kill them even without your R.
This level will allow extra damage on your R as well as reduced cooldown. Actively look for kills and isolated targets.
In this phase of the game, you can either help out your team or splitpush. Decide which one to do by reading the Teamwork Section below.
Zed's ultimate deals insane damage to your targets. This will allow you to R onto a squishy and kill them using only your autos and E. This will let you 1v2 easily, as you can combo one target without using R, and once they die, use your R onto the other enemy, using your autos and Es for the second kill. Watch out, this only works if you are ahead. If you are behind, just settle for one kill.
At this point, Zed is very dangerous. He can kill an entire backline and escaping by utilizing his shadows. However, your enemies will also be quite dangerous. They would have built a countering item for you, and at late game, Zed can get focused and bursted easily during a teamfight. Make sure to go in at the right time, or stick to splitpushing.
Farming is super easy with Zed. In lane, your passive helps you tremendously on farming. Even if you're against a pokey champion, you can still farm safely with Q. However, don't expect your passive to finish off a minion every time. And sometimes, it's better to wait to last-hit until the minions are at the lowest health, because this will not push into their tower as much. So, if you don't have vision and don't want to be ganked, try autoing at the very last second, so that your lane doesn't push automatically. Late game, he can suse his abilities to clear waves, which is why he is very potent as a splitpusher.
Zed certainly lacks things to bring in fights compared to other mid champions. He has no hard CC, nor does he have a lot of AOE dmg. Therefore, I recommend either becoming a super cautious assassin, or a splitpusher.
When to teamfight:
Teamfight with your team ONLY if most of these requirements are met
1. If your enemy's base is already pushed.
If they back to defend, you should be able to assassinate with less danger.
2. If your team CANNOT hold a fight.
If your team can't counter-seige, don't waste precious time on trying to split. Just help your team pick some kills off and push together. The worst thing that can happen while you're splitting is all of your team dying, and you being unable to defend base by yourself.
3. If you have good engage.
If your team has some hard wombos, you may want to stick around to clean up kills after the fight.
4. If your team is having trouble securing objectives.
If your team needs you to secure the Baron or Dragon, DON'T leave them to 4v5.
When to splitpush:
1. If your team is holding their own.
If your team is pushing waves just fine, you can try to splitpush and put pressure onto the map.
2. If your team is holding advantage near Baron.
If your team is near Baron, and you're splitting bot, the enemy must make a quick choice. Either engage hard, or give up Baron. Unless your team loses the fight, this is a win-win. If they come for you, then your team can secure Baron. If they engage near Baron, and your team doesn't die, then you can get their inhibs or even nexus towers. Especially in solo que, teams have trouble decisionmaking. If you can make them hesitate for a second, it may give you the victory.
3. If you're behind.
If you're ahead of everyone on their team, you are the main carry and you should be in all the fights. If you're a bit behind and your team has another carry, you should look to split. Not only will this give you the solo gold and experience in order to catch up, it will put pressure on the map.
10 Champions that Counters and Gets Countered by Zed
In this section, I will mention the "Mainstream" champions that counter Zed. Usually in Draft mode, if you pick Zed, they may pick these champions into you.
In addition, I will also list some champions that you may want to pick Zed into since you get so much advantage over that champion.
Champions that counter Zed (not in specific order) are:
1. Lissandra (Top, Mid)
She is very dangerous as Zed can't get much kill pressure on her. Unless you reach level 5 before her and kill her before she gets her R, this lane will mostly be boring. Roam around in order to counteract her attempt at shutting you down from kills.
2. Kayle (Top, Jungle, Mid, Support)
She is basically Lissandra, except a bit less annoying as she doesn't have hard CC. Just play safe and roam. In teamfights, make it look like you are going for one enemy. Once she Rs that person, switch to another target, making her R less effective.
3. Malzahar (Top, Mid)
This guy is annoying as hell. If he is good, he will poke you down slowly. Once he reaches 6, he won't even need to play careful around you. If you go near him, he will R then proceed to DPS you down with his abilities and Ignite. I recommend getting QSS early, and having Scimitar in your final build. Generally, roam around and go in only when you have QSS.
4. Vladimir (Top, Mid)
He pokes you in lane, has hard sustain, and his W makes it hard to all-in. You can definitely kill him. Just don't get poked too much, and make your all-ins hard. If you don't, he can keep sustaining. Be sure to kill him or force him out of lane.
5. Diana (Top, Jungle, Mid)
She has lots of burst, has a good shield, and overall is hard to kill. Keep on poking to get her low or out of mana. Once she is low or low on mana, you can kill her easily. Watch out for her all-ins later in game. They hurt and her R is low on CD.
6. Annie (Mid, Support)
Her constant pokes are annoying, stuns are hard to get away from, and her burst potential at 6 is insane. Stay away from her and watch out for her flash combo. Try to be cautious from level 5.
7. Fizz (Top, Jungle, Mid)
He is very dangerous as he can negate your Death Mark. However, remember that you can also dodge his R with yours. Keep on poking and keep your kill pressure up so that he can't farm. Try to push hard right before you reach 6 so that you get R before him. Then, immediately go all-in to push him out of lane or kill him.
8. Talon (Top, Mid)
In essence, Talon is basically Zed with a bit more AOE but less reliable escape. Since he relies on mana and his farm ability is in long cooldown, punish him when he goes for farm. When you want to trade with him, wait for him to jump on you before you use your combo. Experienced Talon players anticipate when you may use your combo and jump behind you to dodge your entire combo. I recommend buying a pink ward when you go back, so that at level 6, he can't escape unless he blows flash. Remember, you have much more kill pressure on him if you can have vision during Talon's R duration.
9. Urgot (Top, Mid, ADC)
Urgot is very annoying and oppressive to deal with. In lane, don't let him hit you with his E. If he does, run out using your shadow. Otherwise, you will get poked hard. Don't dive him, since his shield and suppression are enough to get you killed. Again, roam and help your teammates secure objectives.
10. Warwick (Top, Jungle)
Warwick's suppression is very useful against a Zed. I recommend going QSS if you find yourself getting camped, and try not to overextend without any wards.
Champions that Zed counters (not in specific order) are:
1. Twisted Fate (Mid)
TF relies heavily on his gold card to deal damage. However, since you can dodge that with your R, it gives heavy kill pressure. Poke him, scare him into pick a gold card, then proceed to dodge the gold card using your R. It should be a kill unless he has flash and you don't.
2. Karthus (Mid)
He relies heavily on hitting his Q for damage. Since you are insanely mobile keep juking. In lane, poke him constantly since he can't deal effective damage when you are in a minion wave. Move constantly, and when you all-in, be mindful of his passive once you kill him. Don't BM and stand in his passive.
3. Yasuo (Top, Mid)
Yasuo is a controversial matchup for a lot of Zed players. However, I think the matchup leans a bit towards Zed's favor. Since Yasuo cannot hit his knockups as long as Zed is using his R, Yasuo cannot use his R. Therefore, once he tornadoes towards you, R onto him aggressively. After that, he can no longer knock you up for another 3 Qs cooldown. You will have plenty of time left to kill him. Remember, if Yasuo E Q to try to knock you up, you can still dodge that with a well-time Death Mark.
4. Ahri (Mid)
A lot more annoying, but you still counter her. In lane, move around to avoid her pokes. Deal some poke damage when you can, and try to prompt her charm before you R. If you can make it so that she has to charm before you use your Death Mark, you can time it in order to dodge it. In addition, once you R and they run using their R, try to back off for a split second before flashing into them to deal that last damage. This catches lots of Ahri players off-guard.
5. Viktor (Mid)
Dodge his lasers, and poke him when he doesn't have it up. You should be able to avoid his W using your W or R. Make sure to play aggressive as he does not have any mobility spells.
6. Orianna (Mid)
Highlight reel, anyone? Force her to use her R. Then, proceed to W, Flash out of it or dodge it using Death Mark. If she plays aggressive on you, back off until her shield runs out before attempting to trade with her. A good strategy is to move and blink constantly during an all-in using your shadows, since her damage is based upon her ball. If you aren't near it, then she can't do much to deal damage to you.
7. Veigar (Mid)
Keep poking. Push in hard so that he misses farm, and once you poked him down, feel free to engage on him. He has no escapes, and his stun can be dodged using your shadows. Make sure to play aggressively with wards.
8. Ezreal (Mid, ADC)
Stay behind minions to avoid his Q while staying out of range from his W. If you deny him poke and you constantly deal damage to him, he should no longer be able to farm safely. Once he is low enough, feel free to go in for the kill. You can use the "Sticky Death Mark" that I mentioned earlier to follow him through with his E.
9. Kassadin (Top, Mid)
Basically he can't do anything against you until he hits 6. Even then, you should have so much advantage in your lane that his blink should not be a problem. Poke him so that he has to spam his Q to farm. Once he is low, go all-in. Again, the "Sticky Death Mark" is great in this matchup.
10. Vel'koz (Mid, Support)
He can't do much except use spells to farm. Since his auto range is pretty low, feel free to harass him when he goes for a minion. Poke him around, and prepare him for level 6. At 6, you can use your combo to scare him, prompting him to use his E. Then, proceed to dodge the knockup using your Death Mark. Afterwards, he should be dead or at least forced to flash.
Strategies AGAINST Zed and How to Counter Them
They say that you do much better once you think like your enemies. Therefore, I will list some of these strategies against Zed, and then I will list how to weaken these strategies or even nullify them.
1. Being cautious
Strategy: Stay away from Zed and farm safely under the tower.
Counter: Push hard into the towers and roam to put pressure on the map.
2. Asking for ganks
Strategy: Make sure to be safe and wait until the jungler comes to gank Zed.
Counter: Keep your wards up and try to get an idea of where their jungler is. If your laner is playing way to aggressively, this may mean that their jungler is nearby, so back off.
3. Purchasing Zhonya's
Strategy: Buy this items to weaken Zed's kill pressure and his ability to snowball.
Counter: Read the "Playing Around Zhonya's Section below.
Strategy: Roam around so that Zed does not get fed and the team will be able to snowball.
Counter: Make sure to constantly push into his tower so he misses a lot of farm. If he is missing, ping MIA. Try to follow your laner into wherever they are roaming to.
Strategy: Play a champion that counters Zed, so that Zed becomes useless and unable to do anything.
Counter: Read the "Playing When Behind/Against Counters" section below.
6. Using defensive summoner spells
Strategy: Pick defensive summoner spells such as heal, exhaust, or barrier.
Counter: Make sure to know how much damage you have so that you don't get baited.
Playing When Behind/Against Counters
Zed is a very strong champion that brings lots of damage during his duels. However, it is very easy for him to fall behind, since with a few ganks or roams, he will lose the edge in his lane. In addition, his counterpicks can also destroy him in lane, or at least nullify his kill pressure and his snowball potential. So what should you do when you're behind? Well, I've got a couple of strategies to make yourself as useful as possible.
1. Do some jungle camps
Whenever you get the chance, try to do some jungle camps. This will help with the fact that you can't get any kills against your lane. This will also be some safe farm so that you will get some extra cash without risking dying by your laner.
2. Ask for ganks
Against your counters, this will be the best way for you to get some more lane pressure. Try to let your opponent push you in hard to your tower, then ask your jungler for some help. If the gank was successful, try to get something out of it. Farm, roam, do anything that will push you ahead from that gank. If the gank wasn't successful, then be content with the fact that you have got some pressure in your lane. The opponent would probably realize that you have jungle pressure, and will play less aggressive. Use this opportunity to farm up or roam.
If you can't quite get the kill pressure going in mid, try roaming bot lane for some ganks. This will make yourself more useful. Remember, if you go even in mid, their team will pull ahead as you become less and less useful late game in fights. Therefore, just aim to help out and snowball other lanes. This will allow you to get some pressure and assists, while letting your team snowball.
This is the easiest way to make yourself useful. If you put pressure on the map, your team will be able to secure objectives. Remember to choose your lane carefully when you split. If there is pressure near Baron, push bot. If your team is pushing bot, go top, and vice versa. Even when you are behind, you can still draw their carries away from their team. Even if you die, your team will win the fight now that the enemy team have one less carry to deal damage with.
5. Sacrifice for the team
This is your last resort. If you can't do anything without getting killed, this is the way for you to make yourself useful. In fights, engage on their carry. Aim to kill the carry while blowing as much spells on yourself as possible. If your team has another threat, blowing enemy spells such as exhaust or flash on you can be quite useful for your team. If you survive, good for you! Even if you die, you would have killed their carry or at least blew some important spells. Now, it is up to your team to make sure your sacrifice wasn't for vain.
Playing Around Zhonya's
Zhonya's is an annoying item against Zed. However, there are tricks to counter them. I will be sharing some of the things I do when I'm against champions with these items. Let's start with Zhonya's (AND NOT QSS ayy)
Danger of this item: This can either be used like Fizz's E to negate the placement of your Death Mark, or can be used to negate the damage of your Death Mark. Either way, will cripple your burst potential. However, you can counter this by using its own stasis against them.
Counter 1: Stasis means that you can't move to reposition or run away. Therefore, if you time your abilities as soon as they become vulnerable, they will have little gap to run away. Make sure to hop into a custom game with a friend to master the timing. These are some of the things you can do against Zhonya's.
Counter 2: Make them panic Zhonya's. What this means is when they Zhonya's as soon as your R is placed upon them. This is bad for them, as this will not negate the Death Mark detonation damage. Instead, it will make them vulnerable to your R and the fact that they can't dodge your skills after stasis. To scare someone into Zhonya's use your combo against them to deal more damage then use your R. They will be too scared to concentrate upon their timing, since if they don't Zhonya's in the 0.5 seconds, they will probably die from your autoattacks.
Counter 3: Try to get them to pop it before even using your Death Mark. This is the ideal situation that you want to be in. You want to be able to lower them with your combo, make them Zhonya's then follow up with your R.
Counter 4: Zhonya's allows 2.5 seconds to let your cooldowns refresh. This will probably give you an extra E and auto.
Counter 5: You can play it safe. If their team is nearby or you are diving them, just swap back and escape. If you have little confidence that you can use one of the counters above, just be content with the fact that you blew their defensive ability for your team.
Danger of this item: LOL NOPE
Counter 1: Laugh at people building this item to clear Zed ult.
Counter 2: Tilt the enemy ADC into buying a Zhonya's, setting your ADC up by 2900 Gold.
General counters for both of the items: Keep track of their usage of these items. If it is down, feel free to go in and assassinate them. Also, memorizing the CD of these items will also help by a lot. Get your teammates to tell you when these items are down. This will help augment your kill pressure.
Thoughts on W Q E or W E Q
With season 6, Zed mains like me have become sad over the "bug fix" of Riot. Basically, it removed Zed's ability to W Q E effectively. Therefore, all Zed poke combos are now W E Q. You could still technically do W Q E, but the shadow will throw out his shuriken way more delayed, and it would be harder to hit it the double shurikens. Now all the choices we have is to W E Q fast or slow. If you fire your shurikens slower, you can have more time to predict their movements. However, the downside of this is that your opponents will also have more time to juke out your shurikens. On the other hand, if you W E Q fast, you may end up missing your shuriken due to little time to aim, but if you are good at using skillshots, your opponent will have little to no time to concentrate on dodging. I recommend the faster version for experienced Zed players, and the slow version for beginners.
Zed is a very potent assassin with an incredible late game. He wins almost all lane matchups if you're experienced. He can splitpush or teamfight, and as a player you need to learn when is the best time to do what. Remember. What I have listed in this guide is not all of Zed's potential. I only gave you the template that you can experiment with and change, based upon your style of playing. I hope you've learned something from my guide and have fun playing Zed!
Note: If you want some more specific guides on how to improve your Zed mechanics, and you're in NA, add Evanave and message me for some tips.