Malzahar Build Guide by LordAerthos
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 a special kind of AP mage in LoL. He can very effectively solo lane and push towers, and late game it is not uncommon to steal kills from your teammates completely by accident. However, at the same time it can become difficult for Malzahar to bring an enemy champ down for the kill from full health without at least a little help. A large number of guides already out there for Malzahar build him as a hard carry, which he can do very effectively.
In this guide, however, I will be looking at both a build and playstyle that has been very effective for me. We start with an aggressive early game and then transition to a more support role in the late game that is still capable of dishing out a lot of damage and pushing lanes. You can very easily tweak this build to carry, but I am focusing on Malzahar as an off-carry and support.
As always, constructive criticism is greatly appreciated!
18 Jan 2012: No significant changes to items or abilities, but reviewing mastery page and runes for more beneficial setup(s).
08 Dec 2011: What About...? section added for item questions
30 Nov 2011: Guide posted!
Masteries & Runes
For masteries I use a 21/0/9 setup. Obviously we want the point to buff our summoner spells, and I like to crank out as much ability power as I can. Another very viable option would be to adjust some points around so you can get the spell vamp in the Utility tree. Naturally use what works best to your playstyle, but I have found good results with this setup.
Greater Quintessence of Scaling Ability Power
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Seal of Mana Regeneration
Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power
Runes are a fairly personal choice however, so I'll spend a moment to address why I did not pick some other options and let you decide for youself.
Flat vs. Per Level?
Ignite: Malzahar already has solid DoT, and Ignite just makes it that much crazier. More importantly, it makes it harder for the target to heal and with the mastery boost it gives +5 AP on cooldown, which is huge early game.
Teleport: Always a solid spell. With Malzahar's ability to farm and not actually be present in lane (thanks to Malefic Visions), this lets him bluepill for a quick purchase, hop across the map to help with a teamfight, or otherwise help in two places at once.
Flash: Malzahar doesn't have any escape options, and Flash can be a lifesaver during teamfights.
Ghost: Same as with Flash.
Exhaust: I don't think there is a single champion in LoL that doesn't benefit from Exhaust. It's awesome, and with the mastery point it's almost unfair.
Clarity: If you find yourself consistently running low on mana, Clarity isn't a horrible choice.
Surge: Surge has some real potential with Malzahar. Like Ignite we're getting a boost to our AP (and in this case attack speed too), but it's a scaling boost and it only lasts for a few seconds. Which means that it's only going to really start paying off mid-to-late game and only for a few seconds at a time. Plus, it isn't doing damage in and of itself. However, come late game if you have Surge with you, firing it off is like adding a small Rabadon's Deathcap to your arsenal, which generally leads to people dying. Personally, I go with Ignite for that early boost vs. the late-game.
Heal: You really shouldn't need Heal. Malzahar is ranged, and if health does become a problem there is spell vamp for that. You don't even need it to heal minions and push because you have .
Revive: Just... no.
Smite: Standard minions are cake for Malzahar. Even the Golem isn't anything intimidating if you toss that pretty little Null Zone under him. You shouldn't need Smite unless you plan to jungle early and often.
Cleanse: Not that this isn't a useful spell--it is--but Malzahar doesn't need it. He's a mage after all and fairly squishy. Ergo, if you get hit with CC there is probably a lot of pain a fraction of a second away and you'll be dead anyways.
Promote: Malzahar is already a natural pusher due to Malefic Visions. I often need to remind myself not to push so hard because then I'll get ganked. Promote is a spell for champs that have trouble pushing lanes, or want to occupy people while they run to go gank. Malzahar doesn't need it.
Clairvoyance: SOMEBODY on your team should have this; if your team can swing two people with it, even better. If somebody else on your team can take it that is ideal, otherwise Malzahar certainly won't be worse off for having it.
Skills & Skill Order
Malzahar's passive is most useful in the early game. Every four spells he casts, he gets a little voidling to appear on the casting of the 4th spell. Great for harassing and even pulling down towers, but there are two very important things to note:
- The voidling will prioritize any target under the effect of Malefic Visions. Over all others.
- A champion who last-hits your voidling gets bonus gold, as if it were a minion. But they get MORE. (Testing to see if amount varies, but appears to be roughly equal to 2 minions)
One of your two main bread-n-butter spells. It scales incredibly well with AP (0.8) and silences targets that it hits. If you practice with it, you can actually hit a target twice if they are caught in the very middle of the "wall". Early on this will help with laning, and later on it becomes more effective for its ability to silence while still dealing solid damge thanks to its excellent scaling with our AP.
Always remember that there is a slight delay on placing the wall and the beams firing, so lead your targets.
Part of what make Malzahar so dangerous is this bad boy right here. A percentage of the target's MAX health every second they stand on the Null Zone. In a very long game where you hit large AP values, it will not be uncommon to see this hitting for upwards of 13% per second.
Most often you'll be using this as part of your larger burst combo, but do not be afraid to toss one down purely for zoning purposes. Smart players will know enough to avoid standing on it or walking through it, which can buy you precious seconds in the heat of battle. Less smart players... well, another kill for your team is always a good thing!
Your second bread-n-butter spell, and probably the one you will use most often. It also scales incredibly well with your AP (0.8) and--if it kills its target within the duration--it bounces to another target and the duration resets! Primarily this will help with laning, but do not underestimate the awesome power of this spell in teamfights to pick off fleeing champions.
Malzahar's ultimate is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it both suppresses your target for the duration AND does amazing damage (1.3 scaling AP to boot!)... on the other, if you move or activate another spell it ends instantly.
This particular skill order is about what you want to shoot for if you are laning with an ally. You take Call of the Void right away to farm, and hopefully score a kill/assist with your ally thanks to the silence. You want at least 1 point in all of your skills by level 6, and then prioritize ranks in Call of the Void over Malefic Visions.
If I'm doing a solo top or solo mid, I instead prioritize Malefic Visions first. The mana return, while small, helps us lane longer and early on can also be used to harass (particularly against low-health champs). Once we get 3 points in Malefic Visions we switch back to our focus on Call of the Void. If you're having trouble farming go ahead and drop another point into your visions, but you want to get it only high enough to farm and harass so you can max your Call of the Void and your Null Zone as fast as you can.
This is our core item build. Right off the bat you probably notice it is very cheap overall (~5k, or less if you remove the Hextech Revolver)! The reason for this is actually quite simple--we want to establish our core build as quickly as possible and remain flexible to deal with varied team compositions.
The boots you will likely upgrade to Sorcerer's Shoes to give some speed to escape and just a hint of magic penetration to deal with those champions that start with quite a bit (before they load up on items!). However, don't be afraid to switch these out for Mercury's Treads if the other team has a large amount of CC or lots of AP. Tear of the Goddess helps deal with our mana issue early game and later on can boost our AP even more. The big focus is on Morello's Evil Tome for the sizeable AP boost, mana regen, and all the CDR we'll need.
Why Hextech Revolver?
Why not Deathfire Grasp instead of Morello's?
On a typical start I grab either a Sapphire Crystal or a Meki Pendant, along with 1 health potion and 1 mana potion. Both of these give me an early jump on the Tear of the Goddess, so I recommend grabbing one. If you are solo mid, you might even want to consider Doran's Ring; it will delay your core items a little, but the early health and AP boost might be just enough to take down the other mid champ and get an early push.
Regardless of how you start, try to stay in lane until you have enough gold for the Tear of the Goddess. Just like snowball items, the sooner we get this the more it will pay off in the long term. If you can afford it, grab Boots of Speed as well. If you took Teleport, you should be able to drop a Malefic Visions on a minion, bluepill, quick purchase your items, and teleport back missing minimal farming time in-lane.
Your second trip back is where you need to start evaluating what you need the most. If you find that you are running low on health often or just getting harassed a lot, grab your Hextech Revolver, otherwise grab a Fiendish Codex if you cannot yet buy Morello's Evil Tome outright. Finish off your boots on your next trip back if you can, since usually about this time people have grabbed a small MR item.
Unless you are just crushing the opposition into a heap, you should finish your core build with time to spare on the match. Here is where we can start evaluating the opposition and upgrading our core!
Need a big AP boost?
Enemies with MR?
TL;DR -- If 3+ champs on the other team have >100 MR, grab Void Staff, otherwise grab the Abyssal Scepter (which has a side benefit, see next question!)
Lots of AP champs on your side? Lots of AP champs on the other side?
Lack of CC on your team?
- Rylai's Crystal Scepter: Boost to your AP and your health.
- Zhonya's Hourglass: Boost to your AP and armor.
- Abyssal Scepter: Boost to your AP and magic resist.
Gotten some questions about why you would want to follow the build above versus doing something else, so felt that this section was necessary to explain the logic behind some of those choices.
Why not grab Mejai's Soulstealer?
It's a personal choice, but you also need to have a good feel for how you are doing during the laning phase and how the rest of your team is doing. When I do grab it, I tend to grab it either before I start on Morello's Evil Tome, or after I get a Fiendish Codex.
Why not rush to Rabadon's Deathcap before Morello's Evil Tome?
Also, it is a very choppy transition because of the very sizeable cost difference between the two items. In fact, let's break it down:
In total we're looking at 3600 gold, and you're probably going to start with the Blasting Wand, which is 860 gold. Then you're doing NOTHING for a very long time, so you can get the 1600 gold for the Needlessly Large Rod... and you still aren't there yet! At this point we've already spent 2460 gold for 120 ability power.
In total here we're looking at 2350 gold. That's already less than what we spent above, with a little leftover for wards. More importantly, though, is the first step on this item for us--Fiendish Codex. For a paltry 1245 gold we're getting a little AP, a small boost to our MP5, and 10% CDR. Also, because of the varied and cheap components, if we have been getting harassed a lot we still have options. We can just grab that Amplifying Tome if we need some AP, and hey if survivability is our problem we can use that and grab that Hextech Revolver first if we didn't already have it. It's just a much smoother transition that keeps adding to all aspects of our build instead of just one.
Because of the gold and the transition issue, I would say to put off your Deathcap until AFTER you get Morello's unless you are looking to play Malzahar as a hard carry. If you are looking to do that, I refer you to other guides as playing Malzahar as a hard carry is beyond the scope of this guide.
Farming & Early Game
Your early game should function pretty much the same regardless of whether you start with Call of the Void or Malefic Visions. Early on your Malefic Visions won't be able to kill minions by itself, so only toss it down on minions low on health. This should kill the minion and bounce right away to another. Call of the Void should be used to harass the enemy champ or help set up your lane partner for a kill. Either way, most people are careless enough that they'll make a mistake somewhere and you'll nab yourself either a kill or an assist before you hit level 4 or so. As a general rule, farm with Malefic Visions and zone with Call of the Void.
When you hit level 6 and get your Nether Grasp, try to catch your opponent off-guard with a Null Zone and then a quick Nether Grasp for maximum effect. If he's still standing hit him with your Malefic Visions and Call of the Void as he runs away. Odds are good that if you hit him with all of that, he's dead or close to it. Again, your burst with Malzahar should always looks something like the following:
The key is suppressing your target over your Null Zone, as this will make very quick work of squishy champions and will bring those tanky fellows with 4000 health down to earth so you can finish them off with one of your other abilities.
Your biggest concerns early game are going to be your mana and your health. If you pace yourself, you shouldn't have mana troubles too often thanks to the mana return on Malefic Visions. Health will usually depend on what enemy champion(s) you are up against and if necessary, rush that Hextech Revolver before starting on your Fiendish Codex.
Because of his Call of the Void and Null Zone, Malzahar is an amazing champion for zoning your opponents into either a bad position or forcing them to take damage and risk getting killed by either yourself or a gank. In case you are not familiar with the concept of zone control, I offer forth the dulcet tones of Shurelia:
TEAMFIGHT! *or* How I Learned To Love The Void
While funny, the title is also how you should approach teamfights with this build. Unless you feel like sacrificing AP somewhere, you are going to remain fairly squishy. Your job will be to soften targets up for your assassins and to disable as many others as you can so the rest of your team can bring the hurt. To do this properly you need to become an expert at staying in that malleable void between your initiator and the rest of your team. You drop your combo, then fade out of combat just enough so that your Call of the Void and Null Zone are at the edge of your range. The beautiful part is that because Malzahar's abilities scale so well with his AP growth, you're going to grab kills while you're doing this anyways.
Ideally there will be a minion or two nearby when the fight breaks out. Immediately drop Malefic Visions on a minion; this should handle the minions, pay itself back with the mana return, and jump to an enemy champ in short order.
Since we are not trying to 1v3 the enemy team (Do NOT try to 1v3 the enemy team!!) and have allies to help us, start off with Call of the Void and try to hit as many of the enemy champions as you can. With luck you'll nail a couple with the silence, or even better you'll zone one of them awkwardly away from the rest of their team.
POUNCE ON HIM!
If you have Nether Grasp available, you will want to drop a Null Zone down and Nether Grasp your target over the top. This will cause MASSIVE damage, and if it doesn't kill the target outright your team should have an easy kill.
Without Nether Grasp, your main focus will be using Call of the Void to silence as many enemy champions as you can. The cooldown is pretty good, so as long as you have the mana you should be able to throw these out with abandon--just constantly remember that there is that delay between when you place it and when the beams actually fire.
In between castings, throw down Null Zone to establish zone control. You can also use Call of the Void to zone, but you need to be mindful so that you don't have all of your spells on cooldown when the fighting breaks out. Zoning is a powerful way to help allies escape, help your carry/assassin/nuker bring down high-HP targets, and steer the fighting towards or away from brush/towers. Malefic Visions should be slapped on any targets that look ready to turn tail and run as it actually does slightly more damage than Call of the Void and since it's a DoT effect many people can get caught off-guard by it.