Malzahar Build Guide by Sayerk
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.
Added explanation about rushing health early to mid game.
Changed the seals to AP/lvl instead of flat AP, as recommended in comments. Thanks!
Added some pictures, changed format slightly
The other builds out there for Malzahar just don't seem to really give an accurate account of strategy for him, or they give accounts of poor strategy/item builds. I have been playing as Malzahar for quite a long time now, and I have formed my own build and strategy. This is my first league of legends guide, and I feel like it is an evolution from other builds. It is what I use when I can get solo mid, and it does not fail me. I hope it helps you. Please let me know if you like it, leave a comment or rate! Or both!
Before I begin, I must warn you. This build does not allow for new Malzahar players. This build is mostly aimed at people who know what they are doing to some extent. If you're new to malz, play defensively. If you're ready to get serious, read on.
very effective solo mid
scales extremely well
can reveal bushes
somewhat squishy, but better with this build
no good CC
can be too aggressive if used wrong
Greater Quintessence of Ability Power
Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction
Greater Seal of Ability Power
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration
CDR glyphs X9
more flat AP, in seals X9
magic pen marks X9
You do not need MP5 runes, that is what your Malefic Visions is for.
You do not need health runes, that is what your rod and scepter are for.
You need ability power. It is your bread and butter.
You need magic penetration. without it, your abilities are useless.
You need cooldown reduction. More often abilities means more kills, and more usefulness.
The normal AP dps masteries are pretty self-explanatory. Take all the ability power you can get, some magic penetration, extra damage percentage, and some CDR. The other non-offense masteries need some explanation. mana is definitely necessary, as well as mana regeneration. Furthermore; there's no sense in taking Flash unless you pick up Summoner's Insight . There is one more point to go. You won't be dieing, so no reason to take Good Hands . Malzahar is a bit slow, so some movement speed with Swiftness won't hurt.
There isn't really much of a dispute for summoner spells to use for Malzahar. He needs an escape mechanism, and he could use more damage.
Flash is a great escape mechanism, and is also great for surprise attacks. Use it to jump that extra distance needed to get in range for Nether Grasp or use it to juke or run away over an obstacle, denying a kill. The great thing about this spell is that it can be used both offensively and defensively.
Ignite is an amazing damage spell. Use it with Malefic Visions at third lvl to pick up first blood. You can use it while channeling Nether Grasp to get an even bigger nuke. It's a very valuable spell, great for picking up some kills early-game. This is certainly a necessary spell for Malzahar
Why I do not take anything else:
Ghost is nice, but it lacks the offensive capabilities and surprise of Flash. It gives a huge "tell" when you're about to gank and it won't protect you from getting stunned. Heal and Clarity are just silly. If a solo mid needs heal, they will be easy to kill. You don't need clarity, you have Malefic Visions. Exhaust is tempting, and has an offensive/defensive capability, but I still prefer Ignite. The damage is just too useful to pass up.
Revive?? Do you PLAN on dieing? Clairvoyance? That isn't your job. You have wards and Call of the Void for sight. Teleport? Malz does not need map maneuverability. He also doesn't need to get to that minion pileup at the other end of the map. Any practical use of Teleport is already fulfilled. Cleanse? No need, you have Flash to get away from anything that can be Cleansed. All other summoner spells make even less sense.
Call of the Void-Q
Malzahar's passive casts a voidling every four spells. The voidling doesn't do much at first, but gets better in two stages. He is a deadly little pest when frenzied. It is not controllable like other pets, but attacks nearby enemies affected by Malefic Visions. The only downside here is that it will follow you even if you're being chased. This can make it hard to juke or run through shrouded areas effectively. When you are planning for a gank, try to get a voidling up first. If you have a frenzied voidling attacking minions, and a player nearby, cast Malefic Visions and Nether Grasp. This will give even more power to your nuke.
voidlings scale with AD and Armor Pen... AD malz FTW?
This is Malzahar's most versatile ability. He can silence an entire team, check bushes, and deal a decent amount of damage early-game. Upgrade this ability first, then cast three times in the pool to charge up a voidling. If you are going to help your jungler leash, only do two charges. CotV gives sight, and has a pretty large range. Use this ability liberally, checking bushes or even scouting ahead. It's also useful to give sight during a chase. Note that CotV casts TWO projectiles, one from each void node. Each projectile deals half the damage of the spell, but both silence. This means that it can pop Banshee's Veil, Spell Shield, and Shroud of Darkness while still silencing. Also note that the void nodes are the things that grant sight, so you must cast the spell accordingly.
scales to 0.8 extra damage per ability power
This is a major DPS spell, and an immense deterrent. Nobody wants to stand in the void zone, or even walk through it. This spell, due to percentage damage, will melt any champion (assuming you have the magic penetration to back it up). Because of this, the spell is difficult to actually use for DPS. People will not stand in it, and will run out. There is occasionally a time when your enemies won't notice or care. Use it during a teamfight, picking up all the assists. You can also use it with Nether Grasp to melt an enemy very fast. The largest use for it is deterrence, and implied disruption. You have a large area that an enemy will have to immediate prioritize leaving, or die. Level up this last.
scales to an extra 1% HP per second damage per 100 ability power
The Void Herpes. AKA Space AIDS. This is the farming spell, and your mana regenerator. Upgrade it as much as possible, except when you can choose Nether Grasp. It is a very high DPS spell, especially when paired with your voidling. It has been said that the voidling is not controllable. This is false. Your voidling will attack the target with visions on them, as long as they are in range of you. If you move out of range, your voidling will run back and forth in confusion until it makes up its mind.
During lane, cast this on a minion about to die. When the visions jumps to another minion, auto-attack it until it jumps again. This is called Void Basketball. It can jump across an entire minion wave at level 2 if used correctly. I do not recommend using it on a cannon minion wave, they will stop the bounce. If you have the mana, cast it on a too-eager champion. Bonus points if your voidling is out at the time. If they don't run away, kill them.
People who do not understand how to play Void Basketball will be killed by you in lane. These are people who stand next to an almost-dead creep with Malefic Visions on it. Wait for the visions to bounce on an enemy champion, then Null Zone and Nether Grasp. Then thank them for saving you the time of casting an extra spell. It's also possible to do this preemptively by casting Null Zone before the minion has died, then using Nether Grasp to hold them in place as the minion dies in Null Zone. This way, you can ambush a champion that was expecting to be gone when the minion died.
scales to an extra 0.8 damage per ability power
This is a very simple ultimate. First, you stop moving and a target is suppressed. It deals a high amount of damage over time, ticking every 0.5 seconds. By itself, this ability will not likely kill anybody. Use it in conjunction with either Malefic Visions(hopefully with a voidling too) or Null Zone. People will often say to use the "trifecta" before using this, casting all four of your abilities (plus your passive) to kill someone. This is very difficult. People are so terrified of malz that they will run after the first spell. You can be quick enough to cast three at the most, unless you're playing against an idiot.
Don't forget that you can cast Ignite while channeling, but the range of Ignite is slightly under that of Nether Grasp. This means that if you cast it at the edge of your Nether Grasp channel, it will break the spell. Don't be afraid to cancel the spell and float away, it's better than dieing without killing anyone. I recommend waiting for a voidling to be frenzied, cast Malefic Visions, drop Null Zone, then ult. They will be running away, so they might not be in the zone. Ignite if necessary.
Late game, this ability becomes great for chasing. If your team has the upper hand, your enemies running away, hit one with this spell. You will both stop, allowing your team to catch up and finish the job. You will probably just get an assist, but a dead enemy is still a dead enemy.
DO NOT use this ultimate on an enemy with a CC breaker. Gangplank's Remove Scurvy, Alistar's Unbreakable Will, and Olaf's Ragnarok will stop your ult. If an enemy has Quicksilver Sash,(which they will get if sufficiently ganked) they will ruin your ult. Make sure to pop Banshee's Veil or similar bubbles with Call of the Void before ulting.
scales to an extra 1.3 damage per ability power (holy cow!)
Laning (Solo Mid)
If you cannot get solo mid, do not play as Malzahar. As a player, you are most useful to your team as a solo mid champion. Malzahar is also a pain to lane with, his farm is too strong. He is also easily focused down by two DPS champions, and will end up being significantly less useful. If you cannot get solo mid, don't use him. This does not mean to fight over mid with some douche in queue. Just pick someone else, or if you feel like wasting five minuets of your life, queue-dodge.
At the beginning:
Like previously mentioned, build up some voidling charges with Call of the Void. Ask your jungler if they need a leash, and where at. Make sure you are aware of the enemy team, be ready for jungle invasion at lvl 1. Your silence is incredibly useful to fend them off. Once you actually begin lane phase, do not push. This is important. Observe who you are playing against at mid, and what their play style is.
You should be able to determine if you will be able to kill them or not. Are they bad at Void Basketball? Do they have a ton of health potions? Do they get close to you? Do they have a poor reaction time? If any of these are true, you have a good chance.
One good thing to determine is which direction (if any) they run to when you cast a spell. Simply cast in that direction instead of directly on them. People can be very predictable. You can observe this in the very beginning. Cast Call of the Void directly on top of them, and note their mode of retreat. If they stand there and take it, they either have a poor reaction time or they are dumb. Capitalize on this. If they run, they will usually run in the same direction every time. If you cannot predict this, stop wasting mana on them.
Generally if people start with tons of health potions, it means they are used to dieing in mid. Make them burn the potions, then if they have the gall to try to stay in lane, they will be an easy kill. They chose defensive items, instead of ones that will make them a better solo mid champion. Do not make their mistake.
In the middle:
After you have been in lane for some time, you will be able to determine if a kill is going to happen. Talk to your jungler, ask if they will gank mid for you. If it isn't looking good, wait until you hit six. It is now time to do some ganking yourself. If your lanes need help, or if the enemy is overextended, kill them. All you need is Nether Grasp and it's a (nearly) free kill. Make sure to ask about wards, talk with your teammates.
In the end:
Refer to the team fighting section for late game, as well as the ward section. There is no part of late game that involves you being away from your team. Unless you want to die.
I don't know why I need to say this, but it is necessary. Call MIAs. Missing in Action. When your laning opponent is not there, for even one minion wave, let your teammates know. Zoning them and killing them is pointless if they spend half the game ganking your team. I feel like this shouldn't need mentioning, but I find that a surprising number of people do not call MIAs.
When you've destroyed the enemy tower, it's time to roam. Laning phase is over for you. Make sure you are not gone from your lane long enough to have your own tower destroyed. It is going to be an easy game if you can get some ganks at this point without losing your tower or dieing.
On the Defensive
There are some champions that will definitely be a problem if you lane with them. You will need to be careful with these, it's not a good idea to attempt a kill without help, especially early-game. Malzahar's worst enemy is high burst damage. Champions like Cassiopeia or Brand will melt you as you try to whittle them down. These high burst champions will present a problem regardless of the enemy skill or item choice. Below is a list of useful strategy for avoiding death against a burst damage champion:
Do not be aggressive
This includes pushing the lane, auto-attacking minions, and poking. If you hang back and only take last hits, you will be fine. You should only use the spell Malefic Visions, and only to get some mana or kill a minion pileup.
Do not stand near minions
When you're being poked, it's often because the enemy gets some free gold as well as damage against you with one ability. If you simply stand (float) to the left or right of the minion wave you can make them choose between you or gold. This simple technique will make your life much easier in lane. It's also a surprisingly efficient counter against Orianna, Lux, and other AOE burst damage champions.
Wait for your jungler
If you're having problems poking an enemy, or even getting experience, call for help. Your jungler will hopefully be willing to gank them for you. Do not change your playing style as the jungler gets ready for the gank. The enemy will know that something is up. Wait for the jungler to initiate, then Nether Grasp. If have no jungler, play as defensively as you can until laning phase is over.
If you are ganked:
Don't panic. The first thing to do is run in the opposite direction. The ganker and your mid lane opponent may be near each other, perfect. Cast Call of the Void as you're running, silencing them. Run some more. Cast Null Zone. Still chasing you? At this point you should either stand and fight or keep running. A good reason to keep running is if your health or mana is low. If you have a good reserve of both, fight. If not, run under your tower.
If you fight:
People do not expect Malzahar to turn and fight. It's a good chance that you're being ganked by a mele champion. Cast null zone under yourself, then kite them through it. Cast everything you got on them. It is very important that you stay in the Null Zone, and keep moving. Auto attack when you are on cooldown. You should be able to deny the gank, or even pick up a kill.
On the Offensive
While there are champions that are difficult to deal with, there are a few that are so easy to kill that its sad. Some of these include Heimerdinger, Karthus, Ryze and Veigar. These champions can do nothing against Malzahar. The best thing you will do is kill them, the worst you can do is zone them out of experience and gold. Once you purchase wards, you can do this very aggressively. Malzahar is a very annoying champion to lane against, and some champions simply cannot keep up.
To secure a kill in mid, start by nailing the enemy with Malefic Visions while a voidling is out. Do this at an early level, and they will run away. They don't run? Time to die. Once they have ran away, zone them out of experience. Get last hits, and keep moving. Tag them with Call of the Void or Malefic Visions if they get close. If they have to B, you have won. Rinse and repeat until they have to B again or until they get close enough for Nether Grasp.
Be careful doing this for an extended amount of time, they will be calling for help. The jungler will come, and you can get ganked easily if you're not careful. To prevent this, use wards (see ward section). You can also keep an eye on the enemy in lane: if they turn aggressive the jungler is likely near.
If you are unable to attack the enemy champion directly, wait for your jungler. When they are about to gank, wait for them to initiate. Try not to give any "tells" about the incoming gank. Tag them with Nether Grasp and let the jungler do their job. Your team can do this all day against an aggressive player, no need to worry about pushing.
If you do not play against the aforementioned "problem" champions, you can get a kill. If the other player is significantly more skilled, you might not. Worst case scenario is you will leave your lane 0/0/0 to pick up a gank. If you manage to pull off a kill, don't get cocky. Play as if nothing happened. When the enemy champion comes back, zone them and make sure they don't forget they you killed them.
Now it's time for the good part.
To start the game, take . It gives you everything you need to start laning well. A little AP, some health, and a bit of MP5. Many Malzahar players take boots and three health potions here. This is bad.
You will not be taking enough damage to get any effectiveness from potions, and you aren't going anywhere so boots are not necessary, yet. It's better to play defensively and have a higher damage output than to play like an idiot and heal through your stupidity. If you are playing against someone who is good enough to get you to burn health potions, then health potions will not save you. You will burn them all and then be sitting with brown boots and nothing to show for being in lane.
The first time back should be at around 800-1000 gold. You are going to buy a , , and two sight wards (900 total gold). If you can only afford one ward, stick to one side of the lane. If none, play more defensively. If you have been ganked by a stealthed champion, ( Shaco, Twitch, Evelynn etc) buy a single Vision Ward instead. You will love the extra mana and speed, and the wards will prevent against ganks. Use wards to cover your own ***, and make it easy for you to push without worrying about a gank from the jungle. See the ward section for warding the map.
Prioritize buying catalyst the protector, it will help you stay in lane longer. The more you stay in lane and up your creep score, the better carry you will be. Next grab your standard AP carry sorcerer's boots and finish your Rod of Ages as soon as possible. If you're having a good game, you can get it at 15 minuets. Then work towards Rylai's Crystal Scepter, getting even more health, mana, and ability power. The slow you get from it is well worth it. Use it to chase, and to trap your enemies in Null Zone for longer.
I was asked why I rush Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter for all that health, before I stock up on damage. This answer is complicated. First, Malzahar is squishy. He really could use more health. So the real question is, why health so early? You will find that many deaths occur during mid game; the transition from lane phase to late game. The reasons:
-Many AD carries have a steeper item scaling process, meaning they will surpass you in damage output but quickly plateau off. You can meet them there when they slow down IF you can live through it.
-People die in-between phases because of all the rapid ganking. You will be roaming around, and so will they. Nobody but tanks build magic resist at this time, it's just an arms race.
Because of these two reasons, and because of Malzahar's very high AP ratios, he can live off of smaller amounts of AP until later in the game. Stocking up on health is like building a bunker for the arms race, having enough DPS to do the job, and nothing more.
From here, the build changes depending on the composition of the other team, and how well you are doing. First, sell your Doran's Ring. If you're doing reeeeally well, you might not need any magic resistance or armor. If this is the case, take the following in order:
You will have plenty of ability power, some magic penetration, and CDR. Also a nice little activated ability from Deathfire Grasp. Cast the active on an enemy first, then Null Zone and Nether Grasp.
If the enemy carry is getting out of control, it may be useful to take some more defensive items. You will likely still need a Void Staff or Rabadon's Deathcap to deal damage. This depends on the level of magic resistance on the enemy team. Take a look at your defensive options:
This is the caster equivalent of Frozen Mallet. It gives you plenty of armor, mana, and some CDR. If you're thinking of taking Thornmail for an enemy AD carry, take this instead.
You may also want to consider Zhonya's Hourglass. This item sacrifices the CDR and half the armor for more ability power and a nice active. I recommend buying this only if there is an enemy champion ability that you can protect against like Karthus's Requiem. Otherwise, you're looking for armor and Frozen Heart has that.
This is a great item to have, both offensive and defensive. It gives you a decent amount of ability power, magic resist, and a deadly aura, equivelant to magic penetration. Pick this up against an AP carry.
You may want to pick up Banshee's Veil instead, but once again only to specifically counter an enemy attack. You are getting less magic resist, no ability power, and no offensive capability. It is only useful to counter an AP carry that needs a chain of attacks to be effective like Veigar or Brand.
My builds often end up looking like this:
NOTE: I do not factor in base armor or magic resist.
Ability power= 615
Magic penetration: 50%
Magic Resist= 0
VS an AD-heavy team or an AD carry out of control:
Ability power= 576
Magic penetration: 10%
Magic Resist= 0
**Here I might take Void Staff instead of Zhonya's Hourglass depending on enemy magic resistance.
VS an AP-heavy team or an AP carry out of control:
Ability power= 628
Magic penetration: 50% + the 20 reduced MR aura
Magic Resist= 57
This build may require more magic resist, it's all about the enemy team. It's also quite heavy on the magic penetration, this may not be necessary. Think about Banshee's Veil or Deathfire Grasp instead of Void Staff.
Towards the end of every build, don't forget to buy an Elixir of Brilliance! Keep buying them with extra gold to have that ability power you need. Don't be afraid to buy one earlier than the moment you finish your whole build. When you DO finish the build, buy an Oracle's Elixir. Then go counter-ward. This will be necessary earlier if there is a stealthed champion on the enemy team.
NOTE: I sometimes sell my Rod of Ages for a more beneficial item after my build has been completed. The rod of ages helps the most in mid game, when the passive proc applies. If I do sell it, it is to get more armor, magic resist, or ability power, or a combination of any three.
So, you think that because you're the solo mid carry that it's not your job to buy wards? You think you're going to be too busy? Well, isn't that cute... BUT IT'S WRONG!
You should be buying wards until all your item slots are filled, whenever you are at the shop. Wards will help you gank, invade the enemy jungle, secure dragon, secure baron, and have map awareness. Wards will also help prevent your enemy from ganking anybody, invading your jungle, or picking up dragon/baron. You really need to place wards. Nobody will place them for you, and nobody (not even yourself) will wish you hadn't bought them.
Refer to the following map for ward placement:Note the multi-colored points
Also note that this map assumes you are blue team (the bottom left one)
Green Wards: These are for early to mid game. The first two wards that you buy go here. I usually place them inside the bushes to see a waiting gank, but recently I have found that they are much more effective placed just outside the bushes. This gives you a little more warning about incoming ganks, as well as more vision to the entrances to both jungles. This prevents jungle invasion, and even early enemy attempts at dragon.
If it's early game, and you need Vision Wards, place them in the center of your lane, and stand on top of it. Sight wards on the flanks will do you no good against from invisible champions. If you can afford regular wards, still buy them. They are still valuable for protecting your jungle.
Yellow Wards: Mid game wards. You need to ward dragon, baron when it starts getting later, and their blue buff. You might also consider warding your own blue buff. Blue buff on Malzahar gets pretty ridiculous. Take their blue, and make sure nobody takes yours.
Red Wards: These come in late game, and are about the same as the yellow ward section (baron is important!). The new additions are the entrances to their jungle from mid. In the bushes leading to the enemy red buff and wraiths, and somewhere near the blue/wolves entrance.
These wards will prevent ganks coming in while you and your team are pushing mid. Often the team will wait for your team to extend, just inside the jungle. They will try to come around the back and cut off your escape.
It's also nice to see if the enemy is trying to kill a neutral monster stealthily through the jungle. Instead of facechecking bushes late-game, use wards.
You have a very specific role during late-game teamfights: offensive AOE support. You can silence the entire enemy team every 6 seconds or so, deal 14-16% of max HP/second in percentage damage to the entire team for five seconds(70-80%), and you can place a dot on an enemy for 800 damage that jumps to others if they die.
During teamfights, save your ult for a VERY opportune moment. Do not open with it, for the love of god do not target the closest enemy. Most spells that will screw up your ult (knock-up, stun, silence) occur early in a teamfight. They are often saving those spells for you. Make them use it on someone else, then it is safe to ult.
Many teamfights are over without needing to Nether Grasp, and are victories. Many teamfights end prematurely because Malzahar decided to ult the tank, then got focused. You have so much damage to offer, and the enemy team does not want to engage you if you're still up. Hang in the back, wait for a good opportunity, and deal AOE damage.
The best people to ult are obviously the other carries. Cast your other spells, then wait for a vulnerable enemy carry to get too close. This is a good time to Nether Grasp. Also try to use your Null Zone to force the team to split up or push a single enemy out of position. Use your silence on the enemy support, it is the most painful there.
Once again, your role is offensive AOE support. Keep casting until there is a good time to Nether Grasp. You can make or break a teamfight, and you will pick up many assists plus a kill or two. If you're dead then you're useless.
Malzahar is a very powerful champion, but must be played by a careful person. If you manage to not feed in lane, and pick up a kill or two, awesome. If you manage to force a surrender because you are decimating the opposition, even better. You have enough power to kill any other player, but that means nothing if don't have the intelligence to use it.
Use wards, know your opponent, know your own skill level, and play with your team. Do not go out alone after lane phase, do not initiate. Pick up early kills, then rule the game with area effects. If you find someone alone, kill them.
Follow these rules and you'll play well. Also, you should have some fun!
I have spent many hours playing Malzahar, perfecting this build, and getting better. I could not have done any of these things alone. I have learned the most from random people who have beaten me and made me better in the process. So, Thank you League of Legends players.
Also, I need to thank the guys I play with regularly, who tolerate me taking solo mid 90% of the time. They also tolerate my occasional overestimation of my abilities.
I also need to thank jhoijhoi for the amazing guide on how to make a guide. You should check it out! It helped me figure out all the Mobafire code and other useful things. I also drew the format of this guide largely from the example format. I certainly abused the suggestion to color-code my guide! I found the link to jhoijhoi's guide on a different guide, making this at least a second level propagation of the awesome guide! Thanks again!
Thanks as well to the folks over at leaguecraft.com! Their champion builder helped me crunch some numbers.
Lastly, thank YOU for reading my guide. Please leave a comment or rate and let me know what you think. If you don't like it, let me know!