Malzahar Build Guide by Piksel4o

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Piksel4o

Malzahar - Come mortal, witness your demise

Piksel4o Last updated on December 5, 2012
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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: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 0


Utility: 9

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Hello guys, this is my first guide here on Moba, and it is about my favorite caster - Malzahar.

Malzahar is a great caster, and his role in the teamfight and the game is huge. Unlike most AP carries, he is able to take down even bulkier champions, sometimes even tanks. However, the key to mastering Malzahar is carefully calculating the situation, your position, and your enemies. I know you probably have read the thing about positioning in almost every good guide here, but it really plays a key role for Malzahar.

His job in the team fight is mainly to quickly neutralize the enemy carries. However, in higher rated games, the carries will be quietly sitting in the back of their team, making targeting them either impossible, or really dangerous. Let this not despair you, for Malzahar can fulfill many roles in the teamfight. He has the ability to literally pin down and neutralize the enemy tank. And without that tank, the carries at the back are an easy job for the rest of your team.

So, let's begin. Here I'll explain how I play Malzahar, and will give you some tips about him.

Thanks to Searz for the awesome guide format! You can find it here.

Also, huge thanks to jhoijhoi, who helped me A LOT with the coding work. You should totally check her guide on "how to make a guide" , it's what helped me make this :). How to make a guide


(for any abbreviations you don't understand)
Here I'll present you a quick version of my guide. Useful, for, say, when you are in champion select and have 30 seconds until game starts, and you have decided to play Malzahar, so you are unable to read the whole guide. This is in short what you need to know:

Runes: 9x Greater Mark of Magic Penetration; 9x Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration; 9x Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power; 3x Greater Quintessence of Ability Power. Any other runes that focus on survivability are also a choice.
Masteries: 21/00/09. AP,damage, Mpen as well as a bit of CDR in offense tree, and mana regen and buff duration in utility.
Summoner spells: Ghost and Flash, both improved from masteries. Ignite is also a good choice.
Skill order: Start with Call of the Void. Put 1 point in Null Zone at level 4. Max Malefic Visions first, followed by Call of the Void. Take Nether Grasp whenever possible.
Farming: Easy - Malefic Visions, with help from Call of the Void or Null Zone if needed.
Harassing: Call of the Void, sometimes Malefic Visions.
Standard combo: Malefic Visions-> Call of the Void-> Null Zone-> Nether Grasp-> Ignite, if you have it.
Items: Focus on AP, and some survivability with an item like Banshee's Veil

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Pros / Cons

...Can't touch this!


+ Awesome nuker
+ Good AoE dmg
+ AoE Silence
+ Anti-tank (Null zone)
+ Fairly good CC (Silence, Suppress)
+ Excellent farmer
+ Great Harasser
+ Comes from da void
+ Hammer time!

- Squishy
- Usually focused first
- Vulnerable to CC
- Pushes lane really quick...
- No escape
- He floats.

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As you probably saw, I go 21/00/09


Let me explain my choices:
Since the introduction of new the new masteries, it is now better for casters to go 21/00/09, due to the massive benefits in damage and AP it offers.
  • Summoner's Wrath since it improves your Ghost spell, as well as Ignite and Surge, if you decided to use them. The rest 3 points go into Mental Force, as nothing else really helps us.
  • Sorcery for a bit of CD, as we don't really need attack speed or extra damage vs towers.
  • Arcane knowledge is almost essential. 3 points in Havoc for the damage increase.
  • Blast will give you a bit more AP.
  • Archmage. Absolutely. I love the idea of a mini-Rabadon's.
  • Finally, Executioner to let you finish off low HP enemies quicker.
  • Summoner's insight, if you are taking Flash. If not, spend 1 point in Good Hands. The next 3 point are spent on Expanded Mind just because you need them in order to progress to Meditation. Otherwise, I find this particular mastery a bit worthless, but there is nothing we can do about it.
  • As said above, Meditation is your choice. A little extra bit of Mana regen is always helpful. Put one point in Swiftness for a little bit of extra MS.
  • Runic Affinity, because you'll be carrying the Golem buff a lot, and you want to keep it as long as possible.

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Summoner Spells

As you have no escaping skills, this will sure come in handy. Good for positioning in fights for the perfect Nether Grasp.

If you are feeling that you need a bit more damage. However, I don't usually get this, as I feel that about lvl 6, my target should be decently harassed for me to kill without the use of this spell, and much more prefer to swap it with Ghost.

All of your skills require positioning, so this will really come in handy. It can also let you escape.

Very useful spell for Malz. Can be used to either quickly gank a lane, or simply as a faster way to get back to mid.

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Greater Mark of Insight
Best reds you can get, Mpen is always good. There are no other Marks that are even worth considering for Malzahar, you MUST have these, they make a huge difference.

Greater Seal of Clarity
Yes I know Malz can refresh his mana with Malefic Visions. But the extra Mana regen will let you harass SO much. I prefer these runes to AP or AP/level, mainly because the AP you get from yellows is just.. well.. not worth it.
SPACE Greater Glyph of Force
These runes will give you a boost in AP, making you shine during your mid-game.

Greater Quintessence of Potency
15 Ap early game is really nice. Malzahar can really make the most out of these runes, so I feel almost obliged to take them.

Alternative choices:

Greater Glyph of Celerity
If you are concerned about your Cooldowns, or just like the idea of getting as close to the 40% cap as
SPACE Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
If you prefer to stack on some extra HP for your early game, you can try out these runes without hesitations.

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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
> > >

My priority is maxing Malefic Visions First, as it gives you the most reliable dmg source, and it is also your main farming tool.

Below, I will give short explanations and tips about each skill.
Passive that summons an UNCONTROLLABLE minion to fight for you. It evolves over time, gaining Health and Attack speed. This little guy is pretty amazing. If you cast Malefic Visions on someone, the little fella will go after him. This combination allows you to easily farm.

It also can really annoy enemies early game if it gets them. A good combo is casting Malefic Visions on the enemy when your next spell will summon it. This can do quite a lot of dmg, and is great for pushing enemies back a bit.

Later in-game, with enough CD you'll be able to get two or even three of these guys on the battlefield. They are also very nice at taking down turrets. Finally, it can sometimes save you from skill shots if it happens to walk upon their trajectory.

Have in mind that Ignite counts towards the spells needed to summon a Voidling.
This skill shot wall silences and deals dmg. An overall great spell. In team fights, you can pull of a 3 sec silence on pretty much everyone, if you're lucky. It also allows you to finish off fleeing enemies, and due to its long rage , harassing has never been easier. I max this skill second.

Since it has a brief delay, always try to lead your target when casting it. Practice a lot.

It also reveals Bush, so you can use to safely check bushes any time.
This is the skill that tanks hate. It deals a % of enemy's HP per second for 4 seconds. Good placement of this skill can turn the tides of battles. Your usual combo for nuking someone is Malefic Visions -> Call of the void -> Null Zone -> Nether Grasp + chase if needed.

However, if the target you want to nuke is not near the center of the battle, it is sometimes better to spread dmg. Ex: Null Zone a place where the most people are standing, or where u are sure u can get most of the dmg from it done. Call of the void on the casters, and then focus your target(which should usually be the enemy carry). Due to the fact that Malz doesn't need millions of AP to be effective, a decent amount of AP combined with Mpen will sometimes allow you to finish squishier targets without using your full combo.

However, it is not that useful early game, so I put one point in it at level 4, and max it last.

Note: The first "tick" of dmg is applied the moment you cast the zone. You can use this to your advantage, for example when chasing a really low HP enemy, and you either have no mana for your other skills, or are somehow out of range for them - Null Zone can get you the kill
A damage over time spell, which renews it's duration,returns you some mana and passes to a nearby target if the previous one died while Malefic Visions was on. Also, Voidlings will always focus the target with Malefic Visions on, provided that the enemy doesn't move too far away. This is your main farming skill, it allows you to easily clear entire minion waves. It is also on your shortest CD, and most reliable damage spell, that's why I max this one first.


If you overuse in early game, you will end up pushing your lane too far, and thus leading to you being ganked easily,and your team unable to gank.

Sometimes, you'll be able to get two or more Malefic Visions on a wave/teamfight. Keep in mind that if two of them land on one enemy, one will simply disappear.

Note: At rank 5, with about 100 Ability power, Malefic Visions can kill a melee or caster minion on it's own. Lastly, some extra info : on rank 1, it takes 6 minions kills to completely refund the mana cost. On ranks 2,3,4 and 5, you need to kill 5 minions in order to fully recover the mana.
Your ultimate pins down a single target for 2,5 secs, dealing damage over time. It is a channeled spell, meaning that if you get CC'd, it will end. You should know that Tenacity and Cleanse do not help against your ulti. But, Quicksilver Sash does. That's why you hate it.

Below, you will find a list of all champions/abilities that can somewhat counter your ultimate
  • Alistar's Unbreakable Will can cancel the suppression, and will take almost no damage.
  • Tryndamere CAN activate Undying Rage while he's suppressed. (meaning that his health cannot drop below 1, but he is still suppressed)
  • Gangplank's Remove Scurvy will cancel the suppression, but he will continue to take damage until he walks out of spell range
  • Olaf's Ragnarok can be cast while you have ultied him,breaking the suppression.However, he will continue to take damage unless he walks out of spell range.
  • Morgana's Black Shied will protect anyone from both suppression, and damage.

You should use this spell when you have gotten your enemy into your Null Zone in order to max the damage you deal.

You CAN use all of your summoner spells, except Flash. Flash will end the channeling. Also, you can use the active on Deathfire Grasp, Hextech Gunblade, but if you use Zhonya's Hourglass, you will interrupt the spell.

Also, you cannot use your other spells, this ends the supression too. Same happens if you move.

And now it's time to introduce you to your standard combo:

Malefic Visions -> Call of the void -> Null Zone -> Nether Grasp

You start off with Malefic Visions due to the fact that it is your most reliable dmg source, and it is also on the lowest CD (and if you just summoned a voidling it will now focus your enemy for just some more dmg). Continuing with Call of the void for silence and some heavy dmg. Null Zone should always be cast before your ultimate, as it is really easy to avoid. After you have placed your Null Zone, Nether Grasp your enemy. If they are still alive, your Malefic Visions should be ready to cast, and soon so shall Call of the void. Chase target until he dies.

If you have taken Ignite, use it while you are channeling your Nether Grasp
. The active on Deathfire Grasp should always be used at the beggining of fights, but it's not a great shame to use it later if impossible to do so earlier. But, I usually save Deathfire to take down Tanks or Off-tanks.

Pro Tip:
If you want to be a real Pro Douche, don't forget to follow these steps:
  1. Score a kill (Kills on mid give you more points).
  2. Go to their corpse (Even if it is on their tower, yes).
  3. /d
  4. All chat:"CAN'T TOUCH THIS" ("HAMMER TIME" also works)
  5. ???
  6. Profit!

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A word on Smart Casting

I've decided to write a chapter on this one, as it can really improve your game play.
First off, some of you might wonder : "What IS Smart casting?"

The answer is simple: Smart casting is basically auto-casting an ability at your mouse location, no need to click. It clicks for you. Used for spamming spells without needing to aim - turns your skills into Irelia ults, or Karthus/Cassiopeia Q spells.

"And how do I use this?"

If I am correct, by default smart casting can be achieved by holding SHIFT + ability hot key, and it instantly casts the spell on the target/area that your cursor was over.

Examples: To smart cast Call of the void, you will need to have your mouse in spell range , hold SHIFT and press Q. This will create a spell on the area you wanted it to. The procedure with Null Zone is the same (SHIFT+W).

Another example: Let's take a look at your non-skill shot abilities, shall we? With Nether Grasp , Malefic Visions, possibly Ignite, you will have to have your cursor EXACTLY over your target, not just the area. The other is simple - Malefic Visions - SHIFT + E; Nether Grasp - SHIFT + R;

Note: If your cursor is not in spell range, the champion will first walk (or float, in our case) until the spell target/area is in spell range

So how can you use this to your advantage with Malzahar?

First off, Call of the void can become easier to land. But, in order to do this, you must know well the spell range. It also allows you to be more QUICK. That means your enemies will have less time to REACT. Since you want to kill your enemy as FAST as possible, smart casting can help you with this.

Lets take a closer look on a normal situation on mid:
You have your lvl 6 ,and you are about to Flash in, and nuke your enemy to death. I've had a bunch of times, when after my Flash, due to my inability to cast so many spells at once, my enemy either runs away, flashes away, or sometimes even kills me (that damn Annie). Even if I kill them, it is quite possible for them to quickly leave Null Zone.

However, if you know Smart Casting, and are good with it, you can actually flash in, do your combo in a matter of secs, without your enemy even knowing what happened. I'm in the process of yet mastering this skill, as I feel it brings game play to a whole new pace.
So, let's get the Pros and Cons of Smart casting, shall we?

- A lot quicker
- Sometimes easier to land skill shots
- You feel like a ninja
- Awesome for ganks

- Requires a lot of knowledge on the champion, his abilities, and your enemies
- Sometimes a simple miss click might fail you (I've had times when I Ultied a Minion, Ignited someone who I wasn't focusing)

Remember, if you don't find the SHIFT key convenient, you can always change it from the in-game menu! Personally, I find setting your Q/W/E/R keys to automatically start the smart cast best, but only do so if you have some experience with him! Also, since Smart Casting is not that great on everyone, you might have to spend the first 15~20 seconds in game changing your key bindings.. Can get a little annoying.

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Starting Items

Doran's Ring
I Think this is the best starting item for you, as it gives you HP, AP, and mana regen - all the stats you would want early game.
Boots of speed
Grab these plus 3 Health Potions if you wish to start off more aggressively, or you know you'll be facing a champion who relies on skill shots and you need to dodge them.

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Core Items

Rabadon's Deathcap
A mage's best friend, this is the item that gives you your main weapon - AP! And a lot of it! Try to finish it as fast as possible,after your
Rod of Ages it is vital to your game play.

Sorcerer's Shoes
Again another item that you love. Not only it will give you movement speed, but it will also give you some neat Magic Penetration in order to take your damage output to the max.
Void Staff
At late game, stacking tons of AP isn't such a great idea. However, this item provides you with the solution - Must take!

Banshee's Veil
Going full AP build with no survivability is NOT a good idea. Grab this item, It is the item that I think fits Malzahar the best!

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Preferred items

Rod of Ages
Excellent item to start with. Provides you with health as well as some AP - as well as the availability to stay in a lane longer. One of my favorite items.

Zhonya's Hourglass
Another item for AP, and it gives you a really nice active to help you survive in team fights.

Mercury's Treads
What's that? You need some Magic Resistance and a way to deal with CC? Have no worries - you can swap this item with Sorcerer's Shoes without doubts.

Abyssal Scepter
If your enemies are not building MR, take this item instead of Void Staff. REMEMBER TO NEVER MIX THOSE TWO ITEMS!!!

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Other viable items

Haunting Guise
Good mid game item, will provide you with some HP, and will make sure you deal almost true damage to your enemies. Sell it if you get to late game.

Moonflair Spellblade
Since its release, I haven't seen anyone using this, or its similar items. I would most definitely get this in case I got Sorcerer's Shoes instead of Mercury's Treads. Try it out sometimes, It is a great item for early game play.

Mejai's Soulstealer
If you had an remarkable early game, and you wish to snowball your way to victory, this is the item for you. Be careful though, it can easily backfire.

Deathfire Grasp
I like to get this item when facing a very tough to take down guy. Combined together with Null zone, it can achieve some great things.

Will of the Ancients
This item gives you a nice set of Ability Power and Spell vamp that both yield positive results. Farming minion waves with it can restore a ton of HP and Mana.

Morello's Evil Tome
Good item if you want to cap that 40% cd reduction, the Ap is also nice.

Archangel's Staff
Decent item for Malz, will get you tons of AP, and should solve all of your mana problems.

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Possible builds

Main Build

This build will offer you the most out of damage and sustain. Remember, if your enemies are not building Magic Resist, take Abyssal Scepter instead of Void Staff. So far, this build has never disappointed me in all sorts of games, and has granted me many victories :).

Maximum damage

This build will boost your damage output to the max. However, you will be squishy and will die in the blink of an eye. Your only hope of salvation can come from Zhonya's Hourglass, and do not expect it save you every single time. Run this build only if you are confident in your victory and want to snowball your way to it.
Maximum sustain

This build will not grant you that great damage, but it will keep your presence in fights longer. Keep in mind that this WILL NOT make you a tank, it will just give you multiple ways of surviving in a fight. Go with this one if you are feeling that you have way to many deaths, or you are underfed.

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Early Gameplay

Game starts. Put one point in Call of the void, and cast it three times so that your next spell will summon a voidling. ALWAYS try to take mid. Malzahar is in my opinion one of the best mid laners. Reasons?

  • Good farm
  • At level 6 very very few champions can resist your nuking power
  • Combines good with gankers (silence, ulti)
  • Thanks to voidling can do some serious dmg to towers if he decides to push.

Last hit. This is so important for you. As I said earlier, don't rely on Malefic Visions and Voidling getting all your minion kills, because that way you will find yourself at the enemy tower, getting quickly ganked. Instead, you should let your enemy push a bit, then farm the next 2-3 waves with Malefic Visions, let him push a bit, farm again etc etc. During all this time, you can safely harass your enemy with Call of the void. Tagging them with Malefic Visions and sending a Voidling after them at about lvl 4-5 is also a good idea. At level 6, your enemy should have at least half of his hp missing. If possible, ask your jungler for assist. However, if you are confident in yourself, you can Flash in, and do your combo. Garen-teed success.

However, not every game is perfect. Sometimes, you might see that your enemy is beating you in 1v1 ,and you can't really do anything to him. WHAT TO DO?

Relax, the mid lane is not about getting the most kills. Remember, you are alone out there, so you can't blame anyone if you die. So if you see that your enemy is clearly stronger than you, don't focus on killing him. Instead, farm more minions, play more defensively, ask someone from the other lanes to swap if needed, or simply wait for your perfect time to gank. IF you played more defensively, the minions should have pushed you to your tower, and your enemy will either be away of XP zone because he's scared, or be in tower range ,which means easy easy gank.

What about "MIA's" and "ss"? Always say when you have the chance to. But don't flame your teammates if someone from top or bot ganks you. You should always be aware of the map, who is missing and who not. And let's think a bit, if they ganked you, you have probably overextended at least a bit. Try to avoid that.

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Mid Gameplay

After you hit lvl 7 - 8 it is time to start either pushing or ganking. If possible, ask your jungler for Blue buff(skill spam ftw). If you see that all is going well, and you are optimistic, you can invest your gold in a Mejai's Soulstealer. If you have spare gold, ward the map.

There's nothing wrong with geting a 2 or 3 Doran's Rings before or after your core items. However, don't do this if :

  • You have 3 already ( 3 is the max amount I can suggest)
  • When it is past the 15-20 minute mark

Also, if having some spare gold, you can invest it in Elixirs of Brilliance.

Small fights should begin to occur, and your role in them is to FOCUS AND KILL THE EASIEST TARGET. That means you have to judge your enemies. Don't go Rambo, stay at the back and throw your spells from there.

You have a great pushing potential. After a successful gank where hopefully both of the enemy champions died, it is time for the remaining members of your team on that lane to push to their tower. Hopefully, even if you don't take it, you'll be able to do some serious dmg to it.

Whenever you're not pushing or ganking, farm. It's what you do best. You can also organize your team to do a quick dragon, but before that be sure to put some wards down so you don't get caught.

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Late Gameplay

By that stage of the game, you have a decent amount of AP, great Mpen, and you have found out that you are so so squishy. And you don't like it when you're focused, but you always are. Here is where you should play most cautiously. Stand at the back, and focus the carry, or the person you think deals the biggest amount of dmg or is the main threat for you/your team. But sometimes it seems like there is no real person to focus, as they all play a key role in they're team setup. As I said earlier, it is good to sometimes spread dmg - Silence the casters, Null Zone and Deathfire Grasp the tank, pin down the carry, things like that.

Farm large minion waves. Try to always have Blue buff. Ward the map. Help your team with baron and dragon. Do not roam the map alone, you are very fragile.

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Season 3 changes so far

As probably most of you know, we're in Preseason now, and we'll be heading into Season 3 quite soon. The updates in this season are numerous, however they are mostly aimed at junglers, AD casters, and supports - Malzahar being none of those. I guess you can view this as both positive and negative, I was interested to see a wider variety of items for AP carries, but on the other hand, if you don't like big changes, then you're in luck :P.

I've decided to put a chapter on this to give you an idea on what's coming up, for Malzahar in general.

Firstly, from what I've seen, Armor and Magic penetration runes will be nerfed a bit. However, I still think that my current rune page will remain unchanged.

Your masteries are probably going to look like this. As you may notice, minimum changes again - still going 21/0/9. Slight decrease in Magic Penetration (8% down from 10% from Arcane Knowledge). Minor increases and decreases here and there. Spellsword , while at first sounding awesome, is not that great on Malzahar though. Usually your combo would involve silencing someone and suppressing them until they die, you shouldn't really be sticking around auto-attacking if your spells are on cooldown. Still, best you can get with that 1 point. I don't know if your Voidlings are going to take the benefit from Spellsword - then it would be awesome. I doubt it though.


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Quicksilver sash

It happens by surprise, really. Here's what happens:

You are quietly waiting in the bush, thinking what you'll buy with the gold from this extra kill you are about to get. Heh, you killed that guy like 3 times in a row, time to go on a rampage! OK, here he comes... this will be a piece o' cake, simply flash in and EQWR and type "lololo" in all chat. He has no way of dealing with you at all. Here goes.

You flash in, and EQWR like mad. Heh, gg. Wait... what's that white circle around him? WHY THE F*** IS HE NOT SUPPRESSED?!? WTF IS HAPPENING?!? You panic. You throw off skill shots in the air, while the strangely-not-stunned-target simply kills you, as you just can't understand what happened. During Death recap, you take a look at his items. And you see....

F u QS, i hope you get stabbed in the face and get herpes!!!

Well, it probably isn't like that, but that was when it first happened to me, I remember every part of it... :D

So, yes, Quicksilver sash is THE item that counters you. It removes your ulti. It removes your silence. It shakes off Malefic Visions of the target, including Ignite if you have it.

That means... if you see someone taking this item, by all means, DO NOT FOCUS HIM. You'll feel so stupid, trust me.

So what can you do against this? Well... simply hope. For our luck, a lot of people seem to either don't know , forget, or under rate this item (which I don't see why).

IT is your nightmare.

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Closing words

Thank you for reading through my Malzahar guide. I apologize for any grammar mistakes that I could've made while writing this. Please let me know what you think about my Guide, and don't forget to write a comment - criticism is encouraged.If you have any suggestions or tips, please feel welcome to share them. Goodbye, and remember....


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Change log

Here I will post any changes that this guide comes over...

23 July 2011 - Guide re-edited and re-posted
23 July 2011 - Replaced Cleanse with Teleport
26 July 2011 - Added some info on Doran's Rings and Elixirs of Brilliance. Also, updated the abilities and skill sequence sections with the newly introduced Embed Build Tags!
30 July 2011 - Added the "Possible builds" Section.
15 November 2011 - Fixed a lot of grammar mistakes, as well as moved Rod of ages before Rabadon's Deathcap. Updated Olaf in the list of people who can counter your ultimate. Updated starting items. Finally, made the items section at the top a bit more precise.
16 November 2011 - Updated with new masteries, as well as the masteries section.
5 June 2012 - Changed runes a bit, plus minor fixes.
4 December 2012 - Season 3 "preparation" chapter added. Any feedback on possible ideas or strategies is welcome!