Malzahar Build Guide by Zahdjinn
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First item choices
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.
Hello all, this is my first(and only) build.
Malzahar is a high scaling mage that has a strong all-round game due to a combination of long range, strong cc, high base damage, high AP scaling, strong waveclear, as well as extreme burst AND sustained damage. However, he's very rarely picked in the current meta due to a few minor misconceptions about his kit, and the favor of high mobility assassins. Malzahar is able to fill all roles of a mage, including assassin, which makes him a great asset for his team from game start to finish. His high AP scaling, coupled with high base damage and DoTs, allows him a large variance in item builds to respond to enemy builds.
This guide will outline how I play Malzahar, and what I think is required of a good Malzahar player.
Pros / Cons
*High base damage*
*Great wave pusher*
*Infinite mana sustain*
*Good lane harass*
-Natural wave push-
-Hard to learn-
- Quicksilver Sash-
Ignite CAN BE CAST WHILE YOU'RE ULTING
More on Ignite in the combos section!
Oh, and take Flash. For most matchups you'll want to not be greedy with your flash. Try not to flash+combo because it's extremely risky. More about this in the combos section!
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
Greater Mark of Precision
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Armor Seals because Malzahar is so squishy
Scaling MR Glyphs because Malzahar's MR does not increase with level.
If the enemy team is primarily AD, you can subsitute in Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction. This is, however, very rarely going to happen.
You can also pick up Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration. I typically only use these against someone I need to bully out of lane early like Kassadin, Talon, Riven, or anything else that you either win early game, or get insta-killed mid game. You'll lose a tiny bit of late game damage, but it's worth it.
MasteriesMalzahar and aren't quite able to manage your mana effectively you can choose utility masteries. This will however make you lose auto-attack trades with enemy ranged champions, and make you substantially easier to kill due to extremely low base hp.
Doran's Ring start is the most common. The refunded mana from your Malefic Visions stacks with the mana from Doran's Ring. This gives your infinite mana sustain while laning, also allowing you to throw out harass with Call of the Void more often.
Boots of Speed should only be bought in certain cases:
You're against a ranged poke-skillshot champ like Lux, Xerath, or Ziggs, and aren't comfortable with dodging yet. This is a safe start, allowing you more sustain, better gank escaping, more ability dodging. The downside is you wont be able to harass as much, and you may need to watch your mana if you're spamming Call of the Void.
Malzahar is very squishy, so buy Stealth Wards and place them near Wraith Camps on both sides to avoid ganks. Vision Ward in the circular, center brush in the river if you're against Evelynn or Twitch jungle.
|This is the standard. If you can get it, and don't need help in your lane, then get it. You're probably ahead, or had a very long, very passive early game. If you can't get it, evaluate other options listed here.|
|If you find yourself at spawn with very little gold, you probably got ganked, or you're behind in one way or another. At this point it's your job to roam to catch back up. A 2nd Doran's Ring will let you shove the wave really hard, allowing you more time to roam, or allow you greater harass to possibly score the comeback kill. While boots will also give you some good roaming potential, and Sorcerer's Shoes will give you killing potential, a Doran's Ring is cheaper. Make a judgement call on how far behind you think you are.|
|The ideal build starts with this, into
, into these:
- First if high MR
- First if being targeted, or high AD
- First if lots of HP, medium or no MR
|If you're just starting to play Malzahar and still have difficulty managing your mana, or feel that you're just way too squishy in lane, a Rod of Ages will solve these problems, however, in the long run it's better to learn to play without it.
"Why?" you might ask? "It covers all his weak points!" you might say?
Because it delays his item dependent power spikes, and Malzahar needs those powerspikes to insta-kill his laning opponent to get ahead. In normal games or low elo you can get away with it, because people don't know to take advantage of your lack of damage.
Deviating from the core build, sometimes you need to buy those situational items before Rabadon's Deathcap in order to get ahead in your lane.
|Early Game - Pick up Seeker's Armguard if you're against an AD burst like Riven, Talon, Zed, etc.
Mid Game - If the enemy ADC got fed, rush this. In the case of Zed, follow up with a quick Zhonya's Hourglass, as it completely negates his ult.
Late Game - Zhonya's Hourglass is a great item to have if you find yourself being targeted a lot, facing a fed adc, or simply against an AD composite team.
|Early Game - In the case the enemy mid laner builds a Chalice of Harmony, this is a good counter-buy. Coupled with Sorcerer's Shoes, this will allow you to ignore chalice and have a strong early game power spike due to Malzahar's high base damage.
Mid Game - If the enemy team is really tanky, building a Liandry's Torment can really help. However, if you're ahead, it's better to build a Void Staff first, because they will probably stack lots of MR. Always a great choice if you're behind though.
Late Game - This is always a great item to have paired with Rylai's Crystal Scepter.
|This item is amazing on Malzahar. There's just one problem... there are very few situations where it's viable. If you sub this in for Liandry's Torment or Rylai's Crystal Scepter, you actually do less damage to tanky targets. The only thing you can sub it in for is Zhonya's Hourglass. Only do this if you're not being focused heavily, and there's an extremely tanky high MR champion like Dr. Mundo or Galio that just simply needs to die, and isn't dying to your combo without it.|
Keep track of the enemy's items. If you see negatrons popping up, build a Void Staff. If you see lots of HP items, build a Liandry's Torment. If you see GlassCannon4Lyfe, build a Zhonya's Hourglass.
AbilitiesMalzahar has a very unique set of abilities which can be difficult for new players to master. I'm looking at you Call of the Void!
Let's start with Malzahar's passive, Summon Voidling
Summon Voidling - This is a very interesting passive, and often times overlooked in his kit. Malzahar summons a voidling on his 4th spellcast that scales with his AD, and level.
This minion will hide in brush with you, and has an attack priority of:
1. The target of Nether Grasp
2. The target of Malefic Visions (Champions, then Non-Champions)
3. The target of Auto-attacks
4. The closest Target
More Details on voidling mechanics here:Voidlings
The spells you build this up with don't have to hit anyone.
If you were previously wondering why this guide says to max Malefic Visions first, but takes one point in Call of the Void at game start, this is why: you can cast Call of the Void at the spawning pool to get 1 or 2 free stacks. Note 1 or 2 stacks, no more. You don't want to summon your first voidling untill you hit level 2. One at spawn, One to help your jungler, maybe one for harass, and then your 4th spell should be Malefic Visions on the enemy champion at level 2 to have the voidling harass him. There is no internal cooldown either, so if you're spamming your abilities in a teamfight, with enough CDR you could have a voidling army blocking skillshots for your team!
Call of the Void - Another interesting spell in his repertoire. This is considered a skillshot, but at the same time it fuctions more as an AoE. Malzahar creates two pillars perpendicular to him, and after a short delay, two projectiles are fired between them. This spell can be used to scout brush, as it reveals a large area around where it's cast. Contrary to popular belief, it's very possible to take half damage from this ability, and IT IS BLOCKABLE BY YASUO WIND WALL. It's also one of the hardest skillshots in the game to master.
On the upside, Call of the Void hits like a freight train, and has a very long silence. As said before, it functions like an aoe, so if you're perpendicular to the enemy team, or they're lined up sideways attacking your teammates, you can hit the entire enemy team. Not to mention the crazy range on this spell, similar to Vel'Koz, this has a hidden range boost because geometry. If you cast it on the edge of it's range, the line sticks out of it's range. All of this makes it a great harass tool, a great teamfight nuke, and another easy way to 1shot an entire enemy minion wave mid-late game. You'll want to lead with this in your combo, to reduce counterplay. This spell combined with voidlings makes malzahar an anti-mage.
Null Zone - This isn't quite so unique. This is basically a %based morgana pool. This scales like crazy into late game depending on the item build you go with. You use this as part of your combo when you ult, so that you get full effectiveness because they cant step out of it. This spell is absolutely insane against tanky champions combined with Liandry's Torment and Rylai's Crystal Scepter. Your pool will deal raw damage equal to 50% or more of their maximum hp. This spell combined with Malefic Visions makes malzahar an anti-tank.
Malefic Visions - A completely unique mechanic so far. To get a grasp on how broken this spell is, a quick comparison is needed.
Time Bomb is famous for hitting like a truck, with the downside of it being delayed, allowing counterplay like shields, etc. Malefic Visions has the same base damage starting at rank 3, and has almost the same AP ratio, however, Malefic Visions is a long duration DoT. While this still leaves open the opportunity for counterplay, most shields do not last 5 seconds, and items like Liandry's Torment synergize very well with DoTs, allowing them to repeatedly re-apply the item effect.
If it's raw damage wasn't broken, the unique effect on it is. Once the target dies with this spell on it, whether you got the last hit or not, the spell jumps to the nearest enemy(in a decent sized range), refreshes it's full duration, and refunds you mana. There is no limit to how many times it can jump, making this a very interesting tool for wave clearing in the mid-late game. Malzahar has a unique ability to roam due to this spell. Most champions need to push their wave out, then roam. Malzahar can simply place this on either side of the minion wave, and then run out of lane as it pushes the wave for him. This also allows him, if very far behind, to literally farm from behind his turret. This and a voidling will almost always last hit minions in lane if left to their own devices. If this spell comes off cooldown and you still have a Malefic Visions jumping around, you're free to cast it on a seperate target, and you'll have two of them jumping around. However, if they both jump to the same target, the duration will only refresh, instead of having double DoTs.
Nether Grasp - A better Infinite Duress? Malzahar basically pukes up sticky void string and strangles you with it. This is a channeled-suppress, just like Infinite Duress, though this lasts almost twice as long, and has incomparable damage. Due to the various ranges on Malzahar's abilities, as well as the slightly short range of Ignite, this ability can be the most frustrating thing in the universe to newcomers of this champion.
I'm going to get this out of the way and say:
Quicksilver Sash DOES NOT COUNTER MALZAHARIf QSS countered malzahar, it would also counter Zed, BUT IT DOESN'T. While it does completely remove Zed's Death Mark, it only stops the suppression part of Nether Grasp. The damage still happens. Not to mention you can simply not ult that person. If their whole team builds Quicksilver Sash, that's a lot of sacrificed gold for one ability, and is completely worth it.
As said before, this is a channeled-suppress. What does this translate to?
"I'M Katarina PLEASE KILL ME"
While his ult has crazy 130% scaling and high base damage, you have to be extremely careful when using it. If you go in for a kill, throw your combo down and ult, and then get hit by one of the many delayed stuns in this game, you are dead. With that being said, lets jump into the combos you need to know in order to bring out the full usefulness of your ult.
NEVER Nether Grasp ONTO Olaf, Alistar, OR Tryndamere UNLESS YOU KNOW THEIR ULT IS DOWN.
Combos and Teamfighting
As stated before, Malzahar is also an assassin. This part is really simple, as a rule of thumb, ALWAYS lead your combos with a SUCCESSFUL Call of the Void. The silence attached to this nuke will almost guarantee that your combo doesn't get interrupted by a delayed stun/cc. The only exceptions to this rule are when you aren't fighting someone with a delayed stun, or it simply doesn't matter. Combos go like this:
> > > >
Call of the Void and Malefic Visions have a short cast animation and time, while Null Zone has no cast animation, and can actually be cast while moving. If you have Ignite available, try to practice casting it DURING your Nether Grasp. The trick here is that your Nether Grasp has a longer range than Ignite. So if you don't think you're in range, don't use Ignite, or it will cancel your ult. If you get into the habit of casting Ignite before your ult, just remember that if they Flash, you wasted Ignite for nothing.
In teamfights part of your job is to kill the enemy backline, however, in higher ranked games this proves to be exceedingly difficult. As much as people might complain, the reality is that your job is to kill who you can safely kill. If their bruiser is fed and annihilating your backline, you need to kill them to free up your own backline. If their backline is fed, and they are seriously the only threat, you need to change your combo up. Malzahar has insane damage, so using your full combo on a squishy isn't worth it. In the late game, one Call of the Void will typically chunk the enemy ADC to half hp. As Malzahar you need to be a general pain in the *** for the entire enemy team. Hit their backline with Call of the Void. Place Malefic Visions on someone who's almost dead, or is really squishy, so it jumps around. One thing that never changes however, is to always use Null Zone and Nether Grasp together, and to almost always do it to the enemy tank or bruiser. Your suppression of the enemy tank will allow your ADC full freedom to do whatever they want.
Even > > will either outright kill a tank, or take him extremely low for the cleanup.
If this isn't the case, and you're so far behind that this has almost no impact, then it's probably worth it to combo one of their carries.
If your primary Nether Grasp target builds a Quicksilver Sash, try not to use Nether Grasp on him. In this case, they most likely wont blow their Quicksilver Sash until they see you ult, but if they do, feel free to punish them for it.
|Difficulty: Very Easy
A big mistake a lot of people make against Kassadin is being afraid. Kassadin has probably one of the weakest early games of any other mid laner. Starting at level 1 just auto-attack him out of lane. He will try to scare you by using his Null Sphere but fear not, it does't do any damage. When he goes up to harass you, just start autoing him in the face. At level 6, when he tries to all in you, just kill him with your combo. As long as you bullied him enough, he won't be able to kill you without jungle help. He will start to roam at this point, so make sure to indicate he's missing and shove down his turret as fast as possible.
Le'blanc is like your mobile counterpart. She's just as squishy as you, but with more mobility. Stay near your minion wave and harass her down. Her laning harass is fairly weak untill level 6. If she wants to harass you, she will have to use Distortion into the wave. This will push the wave in your favor, making her an easy kill with a gank.
Fizz is a melee champ, and thus at a severe disadvantage. Harass him with autoattacks, Call of the Void, and Malefic Visions. Be careful when pushing the lane, as Fizz players always cry for ganks. Watch out for his level 3 all in, and be careful at level 6. A good thing to do is to have a voidling ready at level 3 and 6, so that when he tries to all-in you, you can surprise him with voidling damage and score a kill.
Not much to say here, Malzahar counters Zed pretty hard. Harass with your abilities and voidlings, stand near your minion wave so when he tries to harass you, it pushes in your favor. Make sure to build a Seeker's Armguard into Zhonya's Hourglass. If your ult is up when he tries to all-in you, just kill him. He has no way to stop you, so most likely, if he fails to kill you at 6, he will roam. Make sure to follow him around, or he'll get fed off your other lanes. A tip against Zed is that Zhonya's Hourglass will negate Death Mark if you use it at the right time.
Talon can be tough matchup due to the nature of his engage. At level 1 he will harass you early with Rake. It's in your best interest to force HP pots as much as possible untill level 3. At level 3 he might try to all in you with cutthroat. Make a judgement call on how much HP you have left when harassing. Harass him hard while cutthroat is on cooldown. At level 6 his all-in is devastating. Make sure to get an early Seeker's Armguard, or you're an easy target. A good trick to try is to buy a pink ward and place it just outside of your tower's range. Push the wave hard from a distance. You should stay within your pink ward's range. His jungler will be forced to come mid to help clear the pink ward. When this happens, sit under your tower range and full combo whichever one tries to kill it.
Nothing really to say here besides... HE. JUST. WON'T. DIE. You won't die, he won't die... welcome to the super farm lane. His Runic Skin, and Bulwark make him pretty much invincible against you. Your Malefic Visions will either deal very little damage, or heal him. Try to harass him with early levels in Call of the Void and voidlings, but really, unless he's very unskilled you're not going to kill him. He can't kill you because all of his abilities are easy to dodge. At level 6 call for a gank. If your jungler is AP, and he's already got a Negatron Cloak, then don't bother with a gank. Just roam to other lanes to get fed.
Heimerdinger is a lane bully, but so are you. He's going to try to shove you under turret to make you lose CS. He's going to place his turrets in the wave to stop your Malefic Visions from jumping around. He might even set up his turrets right outside your turret range at game start. The key to this matchup is your voidling. Make sure every time he plops down a turret, you have your voidling kill it. Don't be afraid of his CH-1 Electron Storm Grenade, just stay behind your minion wave so he can't poke you with rockets. Push him into his turret and repeatedly kill his H-28G Evolution Turrets. In this matchup you're going to want a 2nd Doran's Ring or a quick Haunting Guise. He's an easy kill at 6, just be careful of his delayed stun grenade.
Swain has a very similar laning kit to you. He regens mana by pushing, but he has to actually kill the unit to receive mana. He also harasses with DoTs that have similar range to yours. What he doesn't have is your ability to wave push, or your solo killing potential. Be careful of ganks pre-6, as he has hard cc with Nevermove and you don't. Try to shove lane really hard to deny his farm. In order for him to harass you, he will have to stay near minion wave and risk a Malefic Visions jump. Swain will most likely build Chalice of Harmony or Rod of Ages first, so you probably won't be able to burst him down at 6, unless you bullied him really hard.
Lux is considered a counter to Malzahar, but this simply isn't true. She will negate most of your Malefic Visions damage with Prismatic Barrier. She will outrange you with her Lucent Singularity, and Light Binding. She will have stronger ganks pre-6, due to Light Binding, and she will harass you all day with Illumination. The reason she doesn't counter you is that her kit is counterproductive, and has low damage and scaling. Stay near your minion wave to avoid Light Binding, she will harass with Lucent Singularity and try to auto you. Just hit her with a Call of the Void, and the wave will push in your favor. Freeze near your tower and push equally with her. Lucent Singularity eats a ton of mana, so she will run out quickly. When she's low you can easily go for the kill, as it would take 3-4 casts of each ability to kill you.
Annie is an interesting matchup. Make sure you harass her with superior range - Call of the Void and push wave hard early in the game with Malefic Visions. If enough of them hit her, you can force her out of lane until level 6. At level 6, she's looking for the same thing you are... to melt face. This level 6 is not in your favor, as she will keep a stun saved up. If you try to Flash combo her, she will instantly send out an ability, and the stun will stop your ult. She can, however, flash combo you and there's nothing you can do about it. Your only hope is to cast Call of the Void KNOW that it's going to hit, then combo her. If your Call of the Void misses for that engage, you are probably dead.
Ziggs is another super passive farm lane. He's going to try to poke you from range with Bouncing Bomb but the ability is very easy to dodge. He has very good waveclear, and an escape with Satchel Charge. He will most likely start Chalice of Harmony making him even harder to kill. On the other hand, he doesn't have the damage to kill you unless you run through his minefield, and into all of his abilities, so he will probably play far back.
Make a judgement call on his skill level if you think you can Flash+combo him at 6. Be wary of Satchel Charge's delayed displacement.
Before anything else: Orianna has an extremely high skillcap, so your playstyle should depend on how good you think they are. With that being said, she will typically start Chalice of Harmony, in combination with her Command: Protect will negate most of your Malefic Visions harass. She has a deceptively large lane pressure due to the range on her ball. While Command: Attack doesn't have high range, she can leave the ball there and snipe you with Command: Dissonance if you walk near it.
Against a bad Orianna: push the lane hard, she expends much more mana than you to clear wave.
Against a good Orianna: she will probably put her ball on your side of the wave, last hit without pushing the wave, and harass you with Command: Attack and Command: Dissonance. You cant trade autos without a voidling due to her passive Clockwork Windup. Charge a voidling early against her, hit her with Malefic Visions. This should force her away, if it doesn't, hit her with Call of the Void and keep autoing her. Your voidling will outdamage her, forcing her back to her side of the wave. Keep repeating this, and she's a fairly easy kill at 6. Be wary of her delayed displacement with Command: Shockwave when ulting.
|Difficulty:Very Easy - Hard
Nidalee can do almost nothing to you early game. Stay behind your minions wave, don't let her autoattack you. Push her into her turret and she will lose tons of CS. Harass her with your superior range, but don't get hit by spears by derping around on the edge of your wave. She's also an extremely easy kill at 6 if she gets too close to you.
The reason this is labeled "Hard," is because until her kit rework, her roam is so strong there's nothing you can do about it besides killing her every time she comes into your lane.
You can try following her, but if she's smart, then she will lay traps behind her, or wards, and spear you to death as you chase her. If you're at half hp don't get close to her, as her couger form combo has deceptively high damage.
Syndra has a very strong laning presence with the abilities in her kit. Her weakness is her low ability damage untill 6. She will probably build Chalice of Harmony, so try to take advantage of her mana problems by harassing early. At 6 be careful, as you both have fairly equal killing potential. Lead with Call of the Void to avoid her delayed stun/knockback.
|05/29/14:||Added "Updates" section.
Added Greater Mark of Hybrid Penetration to runes
Added "Matchups" section. More matchups to come~
Corrected some minor grammatical and spelling errors
|05/30/14:||Added more matchups
Added Deathfire Grasp
Corrected more grammatical errors