I have a thing for Champions whose names begin with the letter "M". My first two unlocked champions were Malphite and Mordekaiser, and with 6300 IP from a couple days grind, I was looking to buy Maokai, having played the tanky tree when he was free to play, and had enjoyed him thoroughly. So when searching for Maokai in the store by alphabetical order, I hovered over another "M" monikered mystery man, Malzahar. I decided to check out his abilities, and liked what I saw.On a whim, I unlocked Malzahar then, continuing the "M" tradition started when I first played LoL. It was a good decision. Malzahar is still one of my favorite champions to play, and I have found his talents best suited for you in the middle lane of classic.
Magic Penetration and AP are key here. Malzahar lacks too many defensive skills to be built to survive for very long. What he CAN do, however, is turn a champion to a small puddle on the ground, making opponents think twice about approaching you without a game plan and some backup. So AP and MagicPen are your best choices.
The mana regen runes are also important, as Malzahar can be mana-starved early game.
A full round of Malzahar's spells at level 6 will usually leave you with nothing in the tank.
As stated before, You need to be able to melt faces, so 21 Offense is your best bet. The 9 in utility is for the mana, mana regen and Reduced dead time. Most people don't take the Good Hands mastery because the obvious solution is, "Don't die." But lets be honest. You are one of the sqishiest champs imaginable, so there it is a good possibility that you will the the first to fall on your side. So late game, it helps.
Considering how long classic games can be, a Rod of Ages is a great item for Malzahar to get immediately after Doran's Ring. It gives him much needed mana, some health, and AP. Also, the mana and health given back after leveling is useful for sustaining a lane. Every other item contiributes to your AP or MagicPen, and the Abyssal Scepter at the end of a long game can drive the final nail in your opponent's coffins.
Summon Voidling: Not the best passive, but is a bonus. The voidlings can block skillshots, attack those with Malefic Visions on them, and can do some okay damage at the end of their lifespan (the 14-21 second mark).
Call of the Void: Slight delay in the portals, but you will get used to this skillshot quickly. It is your longest range spell, the silence is great, and does some good damage to boot. A good poking spell.
Null Zone: Deals a % of the target's max health for each second they stand on it. Everyone avoids this when it appears, the only time to use it is when you have your ult to use or a teammate can stun, snare, or supress them.
Malefic Visions: Infects the target with a DoT, this skill is like an ignite than passes on to a nearby enemy if the target dies. Around the time you level this to 3-4 ranks, this can easily kill an entire creep wave if given enough time and a couple autoattacks. This is your number one source of damage for Malzahar, and even if the opponent runs, they cannot escape the damage.
Nether Grasp: Supresses the target and deals massive damage to the target. This needs to be channeled, so you cannot move or attack anything else, save cast summoner spells( Flash interrupts it, obviously). Damage output is increased if target is under your Null Zone.
So far, my guide has been a little pessimistic towards Malzahar's defensive capabilities and survival. While I promote making the most of his powerful offensive abilities, I did not mean to throw Malzahar into a battle to get a kill then die. Rather, a defensive style of play works great with this offensive build. Malefic Visions does all of the laning for you at midgame, so you can keep Malzahar at a safe distance from your opponent while still sweeping the creep waves. In team fights, Malzahar can easily demolish one target and is still quite a threat to the other opponents, so you will most likely be focused, whether or not you play as an AP carry or a DPS caster. Unless you have a godlike tank (or 3-4 tanky champs for teammtes), you can be killed rather easily. On the positive side, you can pretty much pick a target and turn him to dust, and if you live any longer than that, the enemy team will be punished by Malefic Visions. By mid game your Malefic Visons will already burn the health from anyone who doesn't have respectable MR, and the Null Zone/ Nether Grasp combo usually takes down any champion to low/no health, making Malzahar one of the most powerful nukes on the field.
Who should you nuke? When entering a team fight, your priority list of people to Null Zone/ Nether Grasp should be:
#1: AD Carries.( Graves, Sivir, Ashe) These guys are THE team killers late game, especially if fed well. Always focus these first.
#2: AP carries, DPS casters.( Veigar, Xerath, Swain) Like Malzahar, these guys can nuke a teammate or even a team if built well.
#3: Melee DPS ( Master Yi, Olaf, Wukong) These are some of the easiest to ensnare in your combo(considering they need to walk up and smack you to do anything)
#4 Anyone else but the tank. If the tank is well-built, he will usually survive your barrage. Sure, you take their tank out of the fight for a few seconds, but anyone else is generally a better choice.
If still pressed on choosing who to melt with your combo, supress the one that can interrupt your ult. There is nothing more annoying in a team fight than picking your target, popping up your Null Zone, catching your opponent and suprssing them with your Nether Grasp.... and having some Jax walk up and interrupt your ult halfway through with that short stun of his. The less CC the enemy team has, the more variety you have on who to focus down before moving on.
Basically, what you should keep in mind with Malzahar is this: you are the definition of a glass cannon and a burst mage. Use what you have to tear through the opposing team, and play tactically in 1v1 and team fights. Positioning is everything for Malzahar.
Massive burst damage
Annihilates any champ 1v1 with his ult
Good mid to late game
No escape mechanism (save Flash)
Hope you read the guide all they way through, thank you for taking the time. I appreciate you considering my ideas and opinions, and hope to hear some feedback from you. I wish you all the best in your League endeavors.