Malzahar Build Guide by LifeInDayglo
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.
Malzahar is one of my personal favorite AP casters. He has great AoE abilities as well as silence and suppress abilities. He is a fantastic farmer. He summons Voidlings every 4th spell cast. He is great at harassing enemies and can sustain well in lane with his Malefic Visions. Overall one of my 3 favorite AP casters.
In this guide I have included 2 builds; 1 straight Offense, the other primarily Defense. Both builds use the same Runes/Masteries more or less (Seals and secondary Mastery trees differ slightly based on personal play styles) so the idea is to fall somewhere between the 2 builds during any given game depending on how well your team (and often you in particular) are doing.
I will also assume most players understand the shorthand I will be using in this guide. I will edit if people become confused by things like AP or Malz but I'd like to credit my audience as relatively intelligent.
Multiple forms of CC
Good sustain in lane
His dance. You can't touch it.
Squishy (then again, so are most AP carries)
Susceptible to CC (again, this is normal)
Has no escape abilities
Summon Voidling Malzahar's Passive - Every 4th spell cast summons an uncontrollable voidling from the Void which lasts for 21 seconds getting +50% base damage/armor at 7 seconds and +50% attack speed after 14 seconds. The Voidling will always target enemy units afflicted with (the most recently cast) Malefic Visions.
Call of the Void Malzahar's Q - Opens two portals to the Void which after a short time deal damage and silence all enemies caught between the portals. Pick this up first and cast it 3 times on the summoner platform to have your Voidling charged for early lane control (I suggest the 4th cast on the caster minions). It is extremely important to note that Call of the Void is actually two separate projectiles that fire from the portals. If positioned with an enemy off to one side as opposed to right in the middle, you can pop spell shields and still get the effect.
Null Zone Malzahar's W - Often overlooked, this ability creates a zone of negative energy for 5 seconds that deals damage to all enemies in the zone for a percentage of their maximum health each second. This damage is increased by 1% per 100 AP and is great in combination with Malzahar's Ultimate. I tend to max this by level 13.
Malefic Visions Malzahar's E - Puts a DoT on target enemy which deals damage over 4 seconds. If the target dies while afflicted by the DoT, it jumps to a nearby enemy and Malzahar regains some mana. This ability is what gives Malzahar great sustain in lane and should be maxed immediately.
Nether Grasp Malzahar's R (Ultimate) - Malzahar channels a "face laser" suppressing the target for 2.5 seconds dealing magic damage each 0.5 second. As this can interrupt other channeled Ultimates, you can use this defensively (but 9 times out of 10 you should be using Call of the Void to interrupt instead). Also, try to combo this with Malzahar's other abilities. And beware Gangplank only using this after he's used Remove Scurvy otherwise he can just eat an orange and be k.
The first ability you grab should be Call of the Void but you should always, without exception, max Malefic Visions by level 9. Depending on how your lane is progressing, Call of the Void or Null Zone should be maxed second but when do you max one first? Null Zone should be rushed if you find yourself needing to dish out more damage during Nether Grasp and you can properly place the skill. Otherwise it is advisable to max Call of the Void by level 13. It is also worth noting that Call of the Void can be used to help you escape by casting it just off to the side so that the ability goes off "longways" then juking across it as many enemies will get tunnel vision and walk into it preventing them from casting what would be the killing blow. If the enemy is further behind you, you will need to cast it so that they will either have to eat the silence or leave you alone. Use caution with this maneuver as you will briefly stop while casting.
As with almost any champ, you will want to level your Ult at levels 6, 11, and 16.
My Rune page is fairly normal for any caster. Greater Mark of Magic Penetration for obvious reasons. Greater Seal of Armor because AD are usually you biggest threat though if you are aiming for full burst you can opt for Greater Seal of Scaling Ability Power. Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power because they are stronger than Greater Glyph of Ability Power by level 6. Lastly, Greater Quintessence of Ability Power for a strong early game. Some people grab Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration but honestly Malefic Visions tends to keep you topped off and I prefer the defense or extra AP.
With the introduction of Greater Quintessence of Spell Vamp, you can increase your lane sustain by replacing Greater Quintessence of Ability Power but you will lose out on some early game damage which I've found to hinder the transition to mid game. I don't dislike this set up, I just prefer Potency to Transmutation.
Masteries are also fairly standard. Grab everything you can to buff your AP. Depending on your Summoner Spells, you can take a point in any of the buff abilities. If you take the Utility buff, feel free to grab Runic Affinity for the increased neutral monster buffs otherwise I might suggest going Defense for the extra resistances and health. I skip out on Executioner from the Offensive tree because you can usually burst an enemy down without it. If you feel the need for Executioner, feel free to drop Summoner's Wrath (depending on Summoner Spells) or a single point from Mental Force .
Since Malzahar has no real escapes, Flash is the closest thing to a must have that he has. Some people like Surge for the extra clutch burst, some like Exhaust for the escape/chase it potentially creates, some prefer Teleport to get around the map quickly, some like Promote to dominate the lane. All I can say is that you should NEVER need Clarity, Clairvoyance, Revive, or Smite on Malz.
Depending on the enemy team your items should always differ slightly from game to game. If you look at both builds above you can see two distinctly different playstyles are intended; one for an aggressive game, the other defensively. Usually you will start with either Amplifying Tome or Sapphire Crystal and a couple pots or Doran's Ring. Grab the Tome for full burst (which should start you off at more than 40 AP) and the Crystal if you plan on rushing either Catalyst the Protector or Tear of the Goddess. The Doran's Ring should be purchased if you want to burst but feel like you might need the health. Rarely if ever should you start with Boots.
As I've mentioned, more often than not you'll fall somewhere in between however you should usually aim for an early Catalyst of the Protector (which can be rushed into Rod of Ages or turned into a Banshee's Veil later) and completed boots ( Sorcerer's Shoes over Mercury Treads if the enemy team lacks strong CC or you're decimating your lane) and of course Rabadon's Deathcap.
Fiendish Codex is a great early-mid game item as it's relatively cheap and gives decent AP and CDR and can be built into either Morellos' Evil Tome or Deathfire Grasp if you're facing a tankier team. If you do go for the Deathfire Grasp, it is advised to get Kage's Lucky Pick before the Codex for the small increase in gold which can help finish off the piece faster (if you die, wait to purchase the Deathfire Grasp until you're about to respawn to squeeze every bit of gold out of the Pick). Two important notes about Deathfire Grasp before we move on; first its active ability damages the opponent based off their CURRENT health (and scales with Ability Power) and as such should be used before the Null Zone+ Nether Grasp combo, and second, the active ability has a minimum of 200 damage (affected by Magic Resist) so it can be used to pick off fleeing enemies as well.
I also like to get a Lich Bane if I'm farmed but having trouble pushing a lane as it can devastate a turret if you properly time your skills.
Void Staff can be situational if the enemy team isn't stacking Magic Resist in which case Abyssal Scepter is a much better choice (with runes and Sorcerer's Shoes you effectively negate 48.55 of your target's Magic Resist).
Rylai's Crystal Scepter will give some decent AP and health along with a 15% slow (since all Malzahar's abilities are either DoT or AoE) which is nice but sometimes you'll want to got for a Will of the Ancients for the 50 AP plus an aura that gives an additional 30 AP and 25% Spell Vamp. Usually you'll grab WotA if you have another AP champ or need the sustain in lane. Also, WotA is significantly cheaper than Rylai's and as such is arguably better if you're doing poorly in lane.
If you are forced to go defensively, I suggest rushing Glacial Shroud for the armor and CDR and following it up with a Negatron Cloak which can be built into several different items. These two items will quickly increase your survivability.
You can also build an Archangel's Staff if you have your heart set on it. without any other mana based items, a fully charged Staff increases your AP by 73.8 with its Passive alone but does take a while to charge up. If you do go this route it is advised to rush Tear of the Goddess but wait until mid-late game to complete the Staff.
Early Game (aka Laning Phase)
Since you pick up Call of the Void first, you should charge a voidling in the Spawning area (cast the ability 3 times). Once the first minion wave spawns, aim your Call of the Void at the caster minions. This softens them up and your voidling instinctively will attack the closest minion to it (this should be the melee minions). This allows you to potentially harass the laning enemy who is likely standing near the caster minions while the silence prevents a counter attack. You should be able to out farm your opponent early though there are several counters to an aggressive Malz (Annie, Brand and Morgana are a few that come to mind). At level 2, you should pick up Malefic Visions which when used properly gives you plenty of farm while regenerating mana. You'll usually want to wait for minions to be under 3/4 health before casting it early game to make sure it lasts long enough to give you back mana and jump to the next target. When the Siege Minions pop up (and they will), you'll want to focus them and make sure to hit them with Call of the Void (and possibly Null Zone if you can catch the caster minions as well) to ensure that Malefic Visions can jump. Note: sometimes Malefic Visions will jump to a melee minion that attacks you casters, this happens and you shouldn't focus that minion as they will sometimes wander back just far enough for Malefic Visions to jump to another minion. When you start getting close to level 6, watch your mana as a quick Flash Malefic Visions+ Nether Grasp can either finish off an opponent or make them run home. Make sure to head back when you have the minion wave pushed and have enough gold to purchase a decent item (usually by level 6) or you're low on health. Lane presence is essential to your early game.
If you do not have a jungler, you can easily solo the Wraith and Wolf camps between waves for extra gold/experience as well as the small health regen you get from killing the big wolf/wraith. This can allow you to easily out level your opponent but also requires your lane to be pushed.
By now you should have some decent items (either offensively like a Blasting Wand or Fiendish Codex or defensively like Catalyst of the Protector and Mercury Treads). You'll want to stay in lane until your team has downed a turret (if the enemy team downs the first turret you might want to let the enemy push your lane slightly while keeping Malefic Visions up). Once your team downs a turret, you can start heading to that lane to help push and force a team fight. More often than not you'll force the enemy team to scramble to try and protect their second turret but now you have Nether Grasp and with proper communication your team can focus down a priority target or simply an overzealous tank. Whenever possible, try to aim a Null Zone slightly behind an enemy you plan on targeting with Nether Grasp as it will help cut them down even faster. A perfect combo would be opening up with Call of the Void, hitting them with Malefic Visions then dropping and Null Zone and catching the enemy in it with Nether Grasp. During this time you may want to focus on purchasing a Needlessly Large Wand leading up to Rabadon's Deathcap to quickly cut down all in your path.
If your team plays well, this should be the point that you have your enemy on the ropes. Always stay with your team as a smart enemy can still pick you off solo but as part of a team, you represent a grave threat to their health. Allowable exception to this rule include your team achieving an ace or if you need to stay back and defend while your team attempts to push (as you will have a much easier time cutting down minions for profit than wailing away on a turret). By now you should have plenty of AP and should focus on clearing minion waves with your team. If you have a Rabadon's Deathcap and Lich Bane (at level 18 this should hit for more than 300 damage with just these two items plus runes/masteries) you can also deal some good auto attack damage to players and turrets. Remember to cycle your abilities but also be aware of your mana as team fights are always more important than harassing an enemy (you are completely useless without mana aside from soaking up enemy damaging abilities for your AD carry).
In all honesty, at this point in the game you shouldn't need me to tell you what to do.
As I alluded to earlier, I tend to play Malzahar aggressively during the laning phase. Remember though that there is a huge difference between being aggressive and being reckless. Always be aware of your minimap and call MIAs. I highly suggest picking up wards and warding the southern brush (or a little past it) in the River to watch for incoming ganks. This allows you to push hard if you stay near the bottom of the lane so you an be aggressive but smart. Once the laning phase is over, stick with your team as much as possible. Because of your farming abilities, you can quickly push a turret with your team. Keeping the minion wave pushed, you deny the enemy from farming gold while harassing them or the turret. If your team is doing poorly, I suggest farming pushed minion waves and protecting turrets. Once you get some items, join in team fights.
While the mana regen from Blue is nice, you really benefit from the CDR however donate Blue if another teammate will get more out of it (maxing CDR isn't impossible and your mana regen should be fine if you use Malefic Visions properly).
Cycle through your abilities to keep a Voidling summon on hand (much like Annie's stun). Try to save your silence in team fights for channeled ults (like Kat or Nunu) and always focus other squishy targets. As your abilities let you stay out of the fray, your goal is to stay on the back lines of a fight but be aware of enemies that can quickly close the gap (like Wukong and Xin Zhao) because if you are too far back, they can quickly pick you off. I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that positioning is key.
Most importantly, have fun and dance often especially if you have Zhonya's Hourglass (because the enemy Can't Touch This). Hopefully you learned a little something or at least had a little chuckle. Please leave any questions or comments below.
1/3/2012 - Added mini guides for the different phases, updated Rune/Masteries section and abilities, added items and summoner spell sections. Overall cleaned up the guide so it was less ****py and more helpful. Additional comments welcome.