Build Guide by Zappyzip
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.
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.
This is my first guide on MOBAfire so please go easy on me! I will continue to update because right now, I'm not fully sure how to utilize the functions on this website.
Malzahar was my #1 champion I wanted to buy since the week I started playing LoL. Fortunately for me, he was free the very week I got my first 6.3k IP and in short, I can say that I was not disappointed.
Most likely, you won't actually get many ragequitters simply due to this guide. Beside, it wouldn't be too fun if your opponents left every game you played.
Oh and as always, try the guide before voting. I reckon its not too big of a problem on my guide being that its not too radical or iconoclastic.
Who this guide is for?
Many people I play ask me, "Is Malzahar a good buy?" or, "Does Malzahar totally own everyone?"
My general answer is: He lives up to your expectations but is quite a hefty price (6.3k)
For low-elo or normal games, Malzahar seems OP when played by even a averagely good person, thus the name of the guide. However, he is rather straightforward to counter, which becomes an issue in higher-elo.
This guide is for those on the borderline of deciding whether or not to buy Malzahar. It clears up the basics and can teach one how to quickly learn Malzahar's prime abilities. Mastering Malzahar is a different story. Hopefully after this guide, you'll be more interested in buying this fun champion.
Runes and Masteries
I don't have much to say, these are rather standard mage runes.
Mark: Greater Mark of Magic Penetration [no need for explanation]
Seal: Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration [the turnaround level for this is very low and it alleviates mid-game mana issues]
Glyph: Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction [the needed CDR to [nearly] reach max CDR, an alternative is Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction but the turnaround is level 13 so I don't recommend it]
Quintessence: Greater Quintessence of Health [really, the only other choice is Greater Quintessence of Ability Power, but Malzahar is rather lackluster in HP early game where 78 HP can and does make a difference nearly every game. Sure AP can net a kill maybe one in a few games, but HP saves you nearly twice as much from my experience]
Masteries are very generic caster. One deviation I would recommend considering is 10/0/20, taking the Ignite mastery. If you're not level 30 yet, I definitely suggest grabbing 10 in offense to take Ignite. Simply put, its a constant 10 AP, equivalent to 2 Greater Quintessence of Ability Power. This makes a difference because Ignite is essential on Malzahar early to mid game and should nearly always be on cooldown.
Amplifying Tome and one Health Potion
Gives a small boost in AP for easier harassment in lane. The potion is rather universal and should be used as soon as HP approaches 50%. Do not get Doran's Ring because Malzahar, when played right, is not too mana-hungry. Malefic Visions will give the MP needed to stay in lane.
Kage's Lucky Pick and Boots of Speed. Leftover gold built towards Tear of the Goddess
This should be around the time you get your ultimate, perhaps a bit afterwards. Kage's Lucky Pick is a very good choice because the gold gain breaks even at 25.5 minutes and much earlier if you sell it (which you won't though). The Boots of Speed are necessary to dodge skill shots and move around. Don't fully build this into Sorcerer's Shoes quite yet because Magic Penetration is not too influential at this point. Tear of the Goddess will build towards Archangel's Staff later game, but don't worry if you don't have enough gold to finish, as I said, Malzahar is not a very mana-hungry champion.
Mid game transition:
Rabadon's Deathcap and Banshee's Veil and Sorcerer's Shoes
The Rabadon's Deathcap signals the change from early game to mid game. This is a core item and you should try to get this pretty early in the game. Try to build Needlessly Large Rod first though, it gives more AP per gold than Blasting Wand. When building Banshee's Veil try to do it all at once. Catalyst the Protector is no longer that useful at the current level. Even Null-Magic Mantle might be a better choice to build off of. Also, consider finishing your boots now. Sorcerer's Shoes are the shoes you will use most of the time but Mercury's Treads are also viable against very heavy CC teams.
Archangel's Staff, Rod of Ages, Zhonya's Hourglass
The order here is not so important anymore. If you find that you are dying simply because you over-extended by a bit, you may do Zhonya's Hourglass first. The Rod of Ages gives a lot of mana that translates to AP in the Archangel's Staff. When building the last item, sell the Kage's Lucky Pick. After all this, buy Elixir of Brilliance and other elixirs if necessary.
Don't forget: Sight Ward. Going mid, this will save your life.
These following will replace Rod of Ages or Zhonya's Hourglass.
Void Staff. A very viable choice against teams that stack Magic Resist. Even against teams without high resist, this gives a rather significant bonus.
Mejai's Soulstealer. This is an early game item that is very hard to keep up late game. It is nearly inevitable that Malzahar will get targeted in fights and having high stacks of Soulstealer is pretty much a big beacon saying, "Kill me."
Morello's Evil Tome. Use this only if you can't consistently get blue buff (which shouldn't be the case. Malzahar should have number one priority to blue buff).
Rylai's Crystal Scepter. I don't like this because Malzahar's skills are nearly all AoE so the slow is not as effective. Also, escape shouldn't be a problem because of the suppress.
Lich Bane. Useful for pushing turrets and perhaps last hitting if your full combo doesn't finish off the enemy, but hardly useful overall.
Quicksilver Sash. You could potentially get this item earlier than end game because it is very cheap. Malzahar's survival depends of cleansing out of CC, not HP.
Guardian Angel. Generally a no. Can be useful, but very limited. Only viable if you really like the revive.
Abyssal Scepter. Surprisingly good against heavy AP teams. The Magic Penetration however is not the most useful because most of your skills will hit outside of the aura.
Crazy useful early game. Keeps your Malefic Visions going. Decent damage support when harassing with Malefic Visions. Great shield against turrets. One thing to avoid is letting your opponents last hit your Voidling too much. This is extra gold for them. To avoid this as much as possible, keep your Voidling safe until the 7 second mark when it gains a bit more survivability. If your opponents attack it excessively, harass them back.
Multipurpose skill for minion wave clearing and killing. AoE silence for 3 seconds can turn around a teamfight, save your life in a gank, surprise someone pushing a tower, and countless more uses. The angle takes a bit of practice because it is always the line perpendicular to the line from you to the target. One thing that many people overlook is that this skill is actually TWO hits. Both hits can silence and do damage. If you hit someone with the very end of the skill (where the two orbs pop up), it actually only hits the person once. The delay on this skill makes it easy for someone paying great attention to avoid so like all skill shots, its all about predicting where your opponent will be.
This is Malzahar's anti-tank and minion sweeping skill. One common misconception is that you should only use this when you are going to pull off an ultimate combo. However, this is very useful for blocking escape paths, as late game it does a lot of damage. Also, if you dual lane, you can pull of decent damage with a partner doing stuns. The damage on this gets heavily mitigated if your opponents stack high Magic Resist though. This skill also increases your zone of control, something that is very important for high level play.
Malzahar's signature farming skill. When used correctly, it keeps your MP well covered early game. Best when cast on a half HP minion. However, it is often overlooked as an offensive skill. Pop a vision on a nearby minion and watch it jump onto an opponent. It seems to deal insignificant damage, but the over time, it is actually a decent finisher for kills. Primarily, if you don't use Ignite, this skill can finish off a fleeing opponent. Combined with Ignite, you can seriously frustrate someone as they think they have enough HP, but these two skills together melt their remaining HP.
This doesn't need much explanation. If a teammate with good DPS is nearby, a full combo isn't even necessary. The main thing is to watch out for people who could cancel the channel (stun, knockup, etc...)
I don't think I need to elaborate too much on this. Basic skill sequence:
Usually you won't need Ignite as it is more of a pre-level 6 killing skill. Drop another Malefic Visions if they manage to get away. However, if you feel like you are about to get KS'ed while you are in Nether Grasp, feel free to drop an Ignite which will not break channel. Note that the range of Ignite is slightly shorter than the range that Nether Grasp usually hits so be sure to watch out. If you cast Ignite on enemy out of range, you break channel.
Do not initiate. Always choose the carry in the back of the team fight and take him/her out. If you die, but succeed in this task, your team is already better off. Pull off a multiple person silence and you are golden.
It is not true that Malzahar does not an escape mechanism. Yes, he's squishy and yes doesn't move so fast, but you can skill get away. If not, at least you will seriously damage your opponents.
The primary method is to drop a Call of the Void on the path they are chasing you from. When timed right, it will nearly always hit. If you have cooldowns ready after this hits, you could potentially pull off a full combo and turn a losing situation in your favor. Do not be afraid to do this against a caster who is chasing you.
In jungle chases, in addition to Call of the Void, drop a Null Zone. This simply adds more damage, and discourages them from chasing you.
One method that requires a bit more skill is juking out of the grass. Malzahar can do decent damage while juking so it is actually a rather viable choice to turn an attack into your favor. When you see someone initiating against you (with Ghost or something), hop into the nearby bush. Immediately drop a Null Zone and run between the bush and the outside. Correctly done, your opponents will chase you, and only get one or two hits in, while your AoE drains much of their HP.
One important thing is to always have a finger near Zhonya's Hourglass. This will save you from sudden ganks and predictable hits. Do not be afraid to use this, the cooldown is not very long.
More specific strategy
There's not really an organization for these little tips but they make a big difference in game.
This build has no CDR besides runes and masteries (which add to ~15% CDR). You need blue buff to reach an optimal CDR. Get this on your side as soon as you hit level 6. Ask your jungler for help. Try to grab the opponents blue buff after you finish Dragon or Nashor (depending on your side) or after a major teamfight.
When joining a team fight:
Draw an imaginary line connecting your opponents and try to run perpendicular towards that line. Usually, this can be done by hopping from the side of the team fight, out of the bushes. This also gives you a bit of an element of surprise.
In a solo lane, much of the harassing and fighting is a psychological battle. Especially with Malzahar, who doesn't have any CC besides ultimate, it is very important to lure the opponent towards you to secure a kill. One easy way is to fake vulnerability. This doesn't mean let your opponents hit their skill shots, though if they do, it may boost their confidence. What you want to do is let them push you around a bit. If they move forward in an aggressive manner, back off (as long as you keep up last hitting, Malefic Visions helps). Soon they'll start charging deeper and deeper into your zone of influence and you will be able to pull off partial combos to disable them and perhaps kill them.
Being a squishy caster, it is inevitable that you will be targeted. If you know you will die in a big team fight, don't hesitate to pull off a full ultimate combo despite the CC around you. Do not try to run away because Malzahar is pretty slow and many times he will be caught. By dishing out this last bit of damage, you could potentially survive. More importantly, it is very psychologically discouraging if you think you will get an easy kill only to get Nether Grasped for 2.5 seconds as you bang your keyboard helplessly.
Targeting same person:
This is more of a psychological advantage. If you keep on killing the person who you lane against and then follow them wherever they go, they will get very frustrated and will tell their team to focus your in team fights. Many times, they will over-extend to do this, netting you more kills.
After getting used to Malzahar (or any character), consider changing some skills to Smart Casting via the Key Binding in the menu. All my skills including summoner spells are in Smart cast when I play Malzahar. It allows for very quick kills and retaliation.
I'll add pictures when I can. Feel free to submit your own.
PLEASE tell me how to improve because as I said, I'm new to MOBAfire.