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 currently my favorite champion. He is a 6300 IP caster. While I find him very fun, he is very difficult to play and is considered by most to be one of the less good casters. In this guide, I will give many tips on how to maximize the effectiveness of Malzahar's capabilities.
High AP ratio damaging spells
Abilities have good range
Lacks CC that does not stun himself
Passive is not reliable
Hard to hit some of his abilities
No escape mechanism
Channeled nuke leaves him vulnerable to interruption
Passive: Summon Voiding.
After casting 4 spells, Malzahar summons an uncontrollable Voidling to engage enemy units for 21 seconds. Voidlings have 200 + 50 x lvl Health and 20 + 5 x lvl Damage.
Voidlings Grow after 7 seconds (+50% Damage/Armor), and Frenzy after 14 seconds (+100% Attack Speed).
Voidlings attack the target affected by Malzahar's most recently cast Malefic Visions.
The Voidling will attack random enemies unless there is an enemy that has Malefic Visions on it, then it will target whatever has the Malefic Visions . Many people think that this passive is completely useless, and while sometimes this may be true, it can have its uses. Early game, around level six when I get my ult. I will try to get my Voidling to aid in my nuke. When the Voidling is in its third stage, frenzy, it can deal a great amount of damage. The Voidling can also serve as a barrier for skill shots. Many times It will absorb such things as Morgana's snare or Ashe's ultimate. This would be based on luck though, as there is no way to tell your Voidling to move in the way of a skill shot. The Voidling will also assist you in pushing through creep waves. It is possible to spam enough spells to have more than one Voidling out, although this is usually short lived.
A good way to put the Voidling to good use is to keep it out of too much danger until it's into it's 2nd stage. Find an enemy champion that is near a hurt minion, cast Malefic Visions on the minion and have it bounce onto the enemy champion. Essentially, this puts 2 DoTs on the enemy: , and the Voidling. Early game, a frenzied Voidling can devastate even a tanky champion if the Voidling is allowed to bash away at an enemy champion while in frenzy mode. This can serve as an excellent early game harassing tool.
Usually, I do not spam abilities solely for the purpose of spawning a Voidling, he just comes out by chance after I have cast 4 spells. If you are about to nuke some one, it is good to already have the Voidling out, approaching frenzy mode. If you want to get your Voidling out sooner early game, spam CotV a few times while you're in the healing pad thing at the beginning of a match.
Q: Call of the Void
Malzahar opens up two portals to the Void. After a short delay, power erupts from the portals, dealing damage and silencing all enemies caught between the portals.
Cooldown: 9 seconds
Cost: 80 / 90 / 100 / 110 / 120 Mana
Magic Damage: 80 / 135 / 190 / 245 / 300 (+0.8 per ability power)
Silence: 1.4 / 1.8 / 2.2 / 2.6 / 3
Call of the void is one of Malzahar's best abilities. It is an AoE silence with a high AP coefficient (0.8xAP) as well as good range. Late game it hits very hard and silences for 3 seconds (at lvl 5). This ability, however, can some times be difficult to aim. The delay between the spell being cast and the damage is often enough for it to be easily dodged. One trick that I do is put the CotV behind the enemy. When the enemy sees that you have used an ability, usually their automatic reaction is to run backwards, leading them right into the center of the spell.
Early game, CotV hits relatively well but costs a good bit of mana. I do not recomend spamming it too much to harass unless you carry Clarity or you can keep your mana up with mana regen items or Malefic Visions. Remember that it silences so if you see a caster coming to nuke you or a team mate, a well placed CotV will disable the enemy long enough for either you and your team mate to get away, or for you to attack the enemy.
Another great trick for CotV is using it to reveal areas. When you cast CotV in bushes or into a foggy area, a large area around the CotV is revealed. This can be great for checking bushes or around a corner if you feel unsafe.
Because of it's long range, CotV is a good ability for harassing turret huggers. With the delay of the spell, you can cast CotV close to the turret to hit an enemy and run back usually in time to not agro the turret.
CotV is also a good opening spell for your ult, silencing the enemy can prevent him from using Flash or another ability to get away.
W: Null Zone
Malzahar creates a zone of negative energy for 5 seconds. The zone deals magic damage per second equal to a percent of the enemies' HP inside it.
Cooldown: 16 seconds
Cost: 90 / 100 / 110 / 120 / 130 Mana
Minimum Damage: 25 / 35 / 45 / 55 / 65
Percentage Damage: 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 % (+1% per 80 Ability Power)
Null Zone is best used late game. Because it is percentage based damage, it can deal good damage to tanks that have very high maximum hp. If you are fed enough and have most of your items, you can have around 500AP, which deals 15% max health per second. Null Zone has a decently high cool down and costs about as much mana as CotV. I do not recomend using NZ to farm minions. Unlike CotV, NZ does not reveal the area where it is cast.
When you are attempting to nuke an enemy, the Null Zone is a key element. The main drawback of NZ is that it is very easily avoided. When you use you ult, it is good to have a NZ down where the enemy is stunned so that the NZ's damage is maximized.
NZ is a good ability for scaring away melee champions. When a melee champion is attacking your turret, put a NZ down to keep him away from it. Also if during a team fight you see a 2 melee champs fighting each other, put the null zone down to either make the enemy retreat or take damage.
Early game, you should only use null zone when you use your ultimate or if an enemy has extremely low hp, in which case a NZ would get the kill.
During team fights mid to late game, take advantage of your team mates' stuns. For example, if Amumu uses his ult in a group of enemies, lay a NZ down quickly to deal heavy damage while the enemies are stunned.
E: Malefic Visions
Malzahar infects his target's mind with cruel visions of their own demise, dealing damage each second. If the target dies while afflicted by the visions, they pass the curse on to a nearby enemy unit and restore mana to Malzahar.
Cooldown: 15 / 13 / 11 / 9 / 7 seconds
Cost: 60 / 75 / 90 / 105 / 120 Mana
Magic Damage: 80 / 140 / 200 / 260 / 320 (+0.8 per Ability Power)
Mana Restore: 10 / 14 / 18 / 22 / 26
Malefic Visions is my favorite of Malzahar's abilities. It is a single-target DoT spell that transfers if it is present on a unit as it dies. This ability inspired the name for this build, Malefic Visions gets all over ppl's faces and they dont know what to do about it.
A good way to get an early game kill is to use Ignite + MV. When some one is hurt and they are not retreating, put both Ignite and MV on them, try to hit them with a few auto attacks before they run into the range of the turret. This can get you an early kill, possibly first blood.
While MV is my favorite of Malzahar's abilities, I do not get it as my first ability. When Malzahar is lvl 1, it takes too long to kill minions, the MV will deal very little damage and you usually can't even push MV through more than 2 or 3 minions. CotV is better as a first ability because you can check bushes with it when you first go to your lane and it can help with early harassment. Remember that the Voidling is attracted to targets that have MV, if your Voidling is out and frenzying, go ahead and put MV on some one's face and get the Voidling to attack the champion.
Although you can put MV directly onto enemy champs, it is more strategic to bounce it off a minion. Because Malzahar is very under played, not many people are aware of how his abilities work. They wont realize that MV is about to bounce onto their face. Although MV doesnt deal amazing damage, it is Malzahar's best harassing ability. Each time a new creep wave arrives, when the melee minions reach yours, put MV on one and push it through as many minions as you can. Autoattack the minion that has MV on it to help ensure MV will continue through a creep wave. Beware of the cannon minions however, as they are hard to push MV through. Each time it transfers, you gain mana, and MV will often get the minion kill, giving you money.
Malefic Visions makes for an amazing mana regeneration ability. If you find your self low on mana, you do not have to return to the base. Simply wait for the next creep wave and push your MV through, you'll find that it is extremely self sufficient. Even though you may not gain a large amount of mana from when you started, the mana used for MV will be replenished and you can use it again.
Some enemies will realize that your MV transfers and they will stay away when they see MV on a minion near them. It is a good idea to put MV on the minion just before it dies, if it is close enough to an enemy champ, it will catch them by surprise. When an enemy sees the purple gooey stuff all over their face, they will typically retreat backwards, this is a good time to use CotV as they retreat backwards, as well as throw in one or two autoattacks. If by doing this you intend to get the kill, you can use NZ too and throw in ignite, however you may need to Flash forward to put the NZ in a strategic spot, it has a relatively short range.
Late game MV starts to lose some of its effectiveness, CotV passes it as a better harassment/killing ability. Late game, MV does not put out as much total damage as his aoe abilites, but it can still do a fair amount of damage, as well as slaughter creep waves when combined with a well placed CotV . Typically in a team fight, my MV has about a 4.2 second CD, so it's decently spammable. Since you can have more than 1 MV cast out at a time, I put it on as many things as I can. One great thing it can be used for is catching people that are running away. Lets say that 2 squishies are very hurt and are retreating. Put MV on one of them, if they dont split up, you can end up getting a double kill since it will transfer to the other hurt squishy. These double kills are extremely satisfying, especially when two squishies gang up on you and you hit them down to low hp and put MV on one of their faces.
R: Nether Grasp
aka The Face Lazer
Malzahar grips his target in an engulfing void of energy, dealing damage every half second while stunning and suppressing them for 2.5 seconds.
Cost: 150 Mana
Cooldown: 120 / 100 / 80 seconds
Magic Damage: 250 / 400 / 550 (+1.5 per Ability Power)
Nether Grasp is a very situational ultimate. It can either nuke some one down from full health, or it can be a complete failure. Before I give tips on how and when to use NG, I'd like to point out what you can and can't do while using it.
You CAN: Use sommoner spells like Heal, Ignite, Clarity, and Clense. You can also use the active of Deathfire Grasp.
You CANNOT: Move, Autoattack, use any other abilities, Flash. If you do any of these, your stun and suppresion will end immediately, your damage stops as well. You want to avoid doing any of this unless it is ABSOLUTELY necessary, for instance, if you are about to get ganked.
Now, how to use NG. Unlike casters like viegar or annie, instead of laying your stun and then putting out the damage, you put the damage out, and then stun them. For a full out nuke, the order I use my abilities is: CotV (silences them so they cant use abilites to get away, and deals heavy damage), MV (puts more damage on them and if you're successful the MV will transfer to someone else), NZ (NZ is very easily avoided, so it should be the last thing you put out before your stun. It is VERY important to stun them on the , as it causes very heavy damage but only if they stay on it), then use NG, remembering to catch them on the . If you feel the need to, throw in Ignite while you're using the ult (remember this does not cancel the ult). If by some chance they are not dead by the time your ult is over (2.5 seconds), then you may be able to use CotV again, this is a long range spell so you should be able to catch them with it while they are running away. Late game, to get kill a squishy you usually only need + , perhaps throw MV on face to ensure kill. However to kill a tougher champion, you will need to use all of your abilities.
Let's go over this again, shall we?
-> -> -> (if necessary) ->
Many people have complained to me about my ult, saying it's like a free kill every time it's off CD. While this is obviously just QQ, it is good to try to go for kills as Malzahar, since you have a Soul Stealer, you need to take as many opportunities for a kill as you can, so long as there is a possibility to get the kill. I almost never use NG unless I intend for the target to die. Other instances would be if you need a very fast stun, lets say you need to save a team mate from some one, you can stun the person to make sure your friend gets away. Of course, being a stun, it's a great idea to use it on turret divers. All they see is a squishy little caster that they could run up and kill in an instant. But you can turn the tables fast, when you see some one charging toward you in the range of your turret, hit them up with the nuke and remember to stun them in the range of the turret. As I've stated before, not many people know what Malzahar can do because he is not seen often. This is a great way to catch your enemy by surprise.
Note: Summoner spells do not count toward summoning your Voidling.
These summoner spells are in order of most recommended to least recommended
Ignite: Ignite is good to use as Malzahar when combined with Malefic Visions. These two DoTs will burn people down quickly and are efficient for insuring a kill. Ignite is also a good spell to use because it can be cast while channeling Nether Grasp.
Flash: Malzahar's main weakness is his lack of survivability. When you find your self trapped, find a wall to flash through as a quick and effective escape strategy. You can also use Flash to set up your nuke.
Ghost: Ghost can be used as an alternative to Flash. The speed upgrade will help Malzahar retreat quickly from a dangerous situation. You can also chase people well with it. I personally prefer Flash, but if Ghost is your favorite, feel free to use it instead.
Clarity: Malzahar's abilities use a good bit of mana. If you find the need for extra mana while laning, use Clarity to keep up your mana.
Exhaust: Exhaust can be used to slow an enemy that is chasing you or that you are chasing. It also blinds the target, so this is a good ability to use if an autoattacker targets you.
Clairvoyance: If you are one of those players who uses Clairvoyance alot, then feel free to use it. I see no particular synergy between Malzahar's abilities and Clairvoyance, but it is good if you can spot a gank and escape before it happens.
Teleport: Malzahar is not particularly fast, if you like being able to move around the map quickly, use Teleport.
Cleanse: If Malzahar is CCed at all, he usually dies pretty fast. Cleanse can help prevent you from being stunned and focused quickly, but it only breaks the stun or whatever CC it may be, you can still get focused and die very quickly.
Heal: Heal is a spell that I would rarely recommend for Malzahar. The amount of hp gained usually would not make much of a difference, but if heal is the way you like to go then use it if you'd like.
Fortify: Fortify is not particularly good on Malzahar, but once again, if you like getting this spell then be my guest.
Revive: If you die a lot, then you can revive yourself. Really, this spell is pretty pointless so I wouldn't bother using it on Malzahar.
Rally: Malzahar doesn't need AD at all, I wouldn't use this on Malz.
I go into Offense 9 points to get the Magic Penetration, as well as some to get some CDR.
The rest of the points go to Utility for things like extra Exp, Mana regen, CDR, a little movement speed, improve Flash (you can get the Ghost mastery if you use Ghost instead). I chose to get the improve Neutral monster buffs for the Blue Buff. I always go for the blue buff whenever I get the chance, it makes Malz twice as good during team fights. With the 25% CDR and increased mana regen, you can spam out your abilities like crazy.
NOTE: These have been changed, I will need to get a new picture for this some time.
NOTE: If you don't like stacking items, then by all means don't get mejai's!. I just put that in the build because that's what I get and it's worth it for me 95% of the time. I don't want to see any downvotes saying "omg mejais you scrub" or any **** like that. It's for good players. If you're new to malz, you probably shouldn't get it. If you don't want it, then Rylai's Scpeter or Deathfire Grasp are options, however keep in mind that this will set you back in gold as far as finishing your build. A less expensive replacement for Mejai's is a Haunting Guise. This item gives you some AP, HP, and some Magic Pen, which can come in handy if your enemies are getting an early start on MR.
I start off with Doran's Ring, a basic item that gives some hp, AP and mana regen. This will be sold later. If you feel like building your Soulstealer faster, you can get an Amplifying Tome first instead of the Doran's Ring, but know that you will be missing out on the mana regen and hp that Doran's Ring gives you. Other starting builds include but are not limited to: , or
Early game your items should look like this:
Next, you get the Soulstealer , i try to rush this because it's important that you get it stacked quickly. It doesn't do you any good to have 8 kills and THEN get the Mejai's Soulstealer . If you are opposed to items that involve stacking, you can get a Blasting Wand and work on Archangel's Staff . Another potential item that I am considering is the new item, the Evil Tome or whatever. It seems pretty decent, and it builds out of an amp tome so if you've got the amp tome but feel that a soul stealer would not stack well, try the Evil Tome.
Third, you pick up Boots of Speed. Moving faster improves survivability, and can help you chase a little better if you need to. You can also dodge attacks easier if you move faster.
4th item is the Tear of the Goddess. This gives Malzahar MP and mana regen. By this time you should be around lvl 8 or so, so you need mana to be able to nuke efficiently. There is nothing more disappointing than putting out all of your abilities on someone, and then realizing you dont have enough mana for Nether Grasp.
At this point in the game, your build should look like this:
5th Item is Sorcerer's Shoes. Standard boots for casters. If you find your self being stunned and focused alot, you can pick up Mercury's Treads instead, but do your best to avoid being stunned in the first place, this can mean instant death, even with Merc Treads. Another potentially good choice for boots is the Ionian Boots of Lucidity. Although I usually max my CDR without these boots, some of you may use different runes or masteries. These boots can help you with CDR if you are lacking it, and CDR is always a good thing for Malzahar. After your boots, pick up some survival with a Catalyst of the Protector. This item will give you good HP and Mana, also the passive will help you lane better. After a while you will turn this into a Banshee's Veil. I choose not to build this into a Rod of Ages because BV gives a lot better survival, and if I'm trying to get AP items, I will get Archangel's Staffor Deathcap. If you're feeling extremely threatened and you don't think you'll be able to survive building powerful AP items like this with not as much survival, then you can make it into a RoA, however you should still get a BV too.
Next is Archangel's Staff. You've already bought the Tear of the Goddess, so all you need is the Blasting Wand and 1k for the Archangel's Staff. This gives you even more mana and mana regen, plus ability power. By this point you should be hitting pretty hard with your abilities.
Your item build should look like this by now:
Now I get a defensive item. Banshee's Veil is an awesome survival item. I believe that health alone is not enough to save Malzahar. Items such as Rylai's and Rod of Ages seem tempting because they seem to provide a way to survive with all of their hp that they give. However what Malz really needs is something like QSS or Banshee's Veil that can actually stop a CC from happening. A Guardian Angel is also a good source of survivability. If you find yourself jumped and killed, your team has time to react while you are being resurrected, and hopefully you can either kill your attacker, or make it away safely. Health wont help when you get stunned during a team fight, it will end up being a waste of money. This is all not to mention that HP is nothing without Mitigation.
Another item you can get for survivability that I get If I'm being CC'ed too much is a Quicksilver Sash. This item gives you some MR and has an active that is basically the Cleanse spell. However, it can cleanse more things than the cleanse spell, and has a shorter cool down.
If you don't need a defensive item, you can skip this step and go straight to Death Cap.
Next item is a Rabadon's Deathcap, You should have a good bit of AP from the Soulstealer and the Archangel's Staff by now, Getting the deathcap will boost your AP alot with its passive and 155 AP. Note that the deathcap's 30% of AP boost is unique, so you wont be needing another one of these.
You'll be hitting pretty hard with an item build like this:
My next choice is Zhonya's Hourglass. This item will give you a good amount of AP, as well as some good defense. Along with the 55 armor, its active can help you survive. It is good to use Zhonay's active during an ult such as Miss Fortune's Bullet Time, or Fiddle's Crow Storm. Also when a carry jumps at you and you are defenseless, lets say your ult is on CD, use the active to buy your team some time to turn around and get him off of you. Don't forget about this active, as you will need it if the enemy team decides to focus you.
Now for the final item. This depends on how your game is going. If you find that you are being focused down way too easily get whichever of these you didn't get: BV or QSS. However, there may be just too many stuns to avoid being focused. By maximizing your AP, you can put out loads of damage, and if you are strategic enough, you will stay out of harms way. If I'm trying to maximize my AP, I get a second Archangel's Staff. The passive will stack with the other one, so now 6% of my mana is converted into bonus AP. This is rarely the occasion though, but if you really want to hit the thousands in AP, then this is the way to go. If the enemy is trying to counter you with MR, then you can buy the Void Staff for extra magic penetration. An Abyssal Scepter is also a great item that lowers enemy MR around you, as well as granting you MR and AP. My only concern with this item is that you may deal damage from a range that is beyond that of the Aura. However, it's still a good item to get.
So, assuming you need Survivability items, your build should be similar to this:
| | | | | OR OR
If you've been doing fine without many survival items, then you should be putting out a ton of damage with this build:
| | | | | OR
After you have bought all of your items, you can sell some if you need to change something up, for instance if your soulstealer stacks are hanging below 10, it may be better to sell it and buy another item. If you're set with what you've got, just spam elixirs, preferably Elixir of Brilliance.
Note: If you choose to get Deathfire Grasp instead of Mejai's, you MUST utilize its active ability. It will aid in your nuke, make sure you use it early in your nuke, because it deals a % of the enemy's hp.
So in the average rape game, assuming you're fed and keep yourself alive 95% of the time, your build should be as follows:
| | | | |
In a more challenging game, you'll have something along the lines of:
OR | | | | |
In a game where you are constantly threatened and you are having alot of trouble surviving, a safer route would be:
OR | | | | | OR
I would like to point at that with the build that is listed in the Item Sequence, the actual end AP is 759 AP, with 20 stacks on mejai's. I dont know why the total AP is listed as 280. I think the Archangel's passive may not be being counted in as AP, and the stacks on Mejai's might not either.
There are a few other items that other Malzahar players consider getting. I will give my opinion on the pros and cons of these items.
Pros: The Abyssal Scepter gives MR, AP, and an Aura that decreases MR of near by enemy champions.
Cons: Cost a good bit of money, Malzahar hits people from a distance that could be out of the range of the Aura, so it's effect is less useful.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter
Pros: Gives HP, some AP, makes your abilities cause Slow.
Cons: Costs a lot of money, in most instances 500 hp will not make enough of a difference, if malz is focused, he dies, regardless of whether he has 500 more HP. The AP gained from this item is not proportionally efficient compared to how much it costs (you can get a Needlessly Large Rod for almost half the cost of this, they both give 80 AP). The passive that gives slows to Malz's abilities is not extremely useful considering that you pay so much for it. Malzahar's Nuke is an instant burst of damage, the slowing effect does not very much use. While you can slow an individual with MV, and slow multiple people with NZ and CotV, all slow durations are 15% slow, because they are AoE/DoT spells. I personally believe that this is not worth 3100 gold.
Rod of Ages
Pros: HP, Mana, AP
Cons: The AP is not effecient considering the price and time it takes to get the full AP out of this item. This item is more for tank-AP hybrid builds. It is not good for maximizing AP, which is the theme of this build.
Will of The Ancients
Pros: AP + Spell Vamp. It gives an Aura that can help team mate casters.
Cons: Not a great amount of AP considering the price. Spell Vamp is not particularly good on Malzahar.
Pros: Provides some AP, manaregen,CDR. Also gives you an active that you can use to aid in your nuke.
This seems like a fine item for Malzahar, but it just doesnt fit my play style. I prefer to maximize my AP over getting an active ability from an item that I use to nuke. It is an alternative item you can get in place of the Soulstealer if you dont like stacking items.
Pros: Gives you some AP, MR, Movement Speed, Active that enhances your autoattack.
Cons: You don't get much AP for the cost of this item. If you want a MR item, get Banshee's Veil. Movement speed helps, but I wouldnt spend this much money to get that. Malz doesn't use his autoattack, getting a lich bane for him would work just as well as getting a lich bane on annie or veigar, sure it does make your autoattack better, but you'd be more effective just getting AP items and not worrying about your auto attack.
For Marks, I get magic pen. All of Malzahar's abilities are damaging spells, so the more magic pen you have, the better. AP Marks are also optional.
For Glyphs, I get a balance between straight CDR and CDR per level. I lean more toward the CDR per level, because at lvl 18 it out weighs the straight CDR, Malzahar is better late game than he is early game. Malzahar's abilities have relatively long cool downs, so the more CDR, the more abilities you can throw out. It is important to be able to use your abilities very frequently. AP glyphs are also optional.
For Seals, I get mana regen per level. This helps him keep up his mana, Malzahar's abilities take a good bit of mana. AP Seals are also optional.
For Quintessences, I choose to get more CDR per level. While most people get straight HP quints, I find that, as a caster, it is more important to have better damage output than having more survivability early game. I also feel that this extra health loses its importance after early game. If Malzahar is ganked or focused in a team fight, 100 hp is not going to make a difference. CDR shows up alot more mid and late game, it can allow you to be able to put more damage out in team fights.
If you truly have to have extra hp, then you can get HP quints, but know that you are sacrificing 7% CDR by lvl 18. AP Quints are also optional. Magic Pen Quints are also optional.
Ability Level Sequence / Game Play
Ability Level Sequence / Game Play
Early Game (lvl 1-6)
I start off with Call of the Void as my first ability. Although Malefic Visions is the theme of this build and my favorite of his abilities, at level 1 it lacks any extra damage from AP and is very hard to push through minions. Call of the Void can be spammed at the healing pad to work on summoning the Voidling before going to your lane. Call of the Void can also be used to check bushes instead of having to face check.
Early game I try not to do anything too risky. If you see an opportunity for an Ingite + MV to get a kill, go for it but you have to be fast about it. Doing this can result in good early game kills/assists. Also remember that your autoattack does a fair amount of damage when every one is low level, so throw that in when you try for a kill.
Next I get 2 MVs, by the 2nd one, you should be constantly pushing MV through minions and trying to get it to bounce onto people's faces. Remember to place your CotV behind enemies to keep them harassed, but pay attention to your own safety. Next level I get Null Zone, it's good to have at least 1 level in NZ in case there is an emergency and you need it. It is a good scaring ability and is needed to accompany Nether Grasp, which you get at level 6 of course.
Mid Game (lvl 7-13)
At level 7 I pick up another CotV so that it continues to put out good damage. I then alternate between MV and CotV until MV is lvl 5. If the enemy team is very tanky, you may need to upgrade your Null Zone sooner.
Some mid game tactics include: If you find your self being chased and you know that there is no way out, if the enemy is squishy enough, you may be able to turn it around on them. If the enemy is a melee, put NZ under you and use CotV right infront of you where they are attacking you. Put MV on them as well, possibly Ignite too. When some one sees you using alot of abilities, it might scare them off. The best way to turn something around on some one is to let the enemy chase you to a bush. When you reach the bush, be ready with CotV. Silence them, NZ them, MV and NG if you can. This is an amazing way to nuke some one out of their own carelessness. It is normally harder to nuke some one if they see you coming, but this bush tactic works almost all the time.
In team fights, try your hardest to have a golem buff. I usually go for it around lvl 9 or 10. When you have the blue buff on you, you can put out loads of spells druing team fights. Look for easy targets, squishies, or groups of enemies to use CotV on. It is also good to use on their casters so they are silenced. Whenever you see a group engage in melee, place a NZ down under them. Remember to use your NG on a priority target, or if you need it to save yourself. MV is best used on enemies that are about to die, so that it bounces off them and can continue through other enemies. MV is also good to use when enemy creep waves arrive so that you can get some mana back if you are low. As for positioning yourself, remember that Malzahar is very squishy and lacks a good escape ability. Try to stay behind your team mates, be ready to Flash out of danger if you feel threatened.
Late Game (lvl 14-18)
Malzahar shines the most during late game, but only if you use him properly.
You should be getting your final few items now. Your AP should be very high so your abilities will be hitting very hard. Because Null Zone is most effective late game, you will be leveling it up through your last levels until 18.
By late game, it is important that your soulstealer is stacked decently high (13-20). If the stacking is not going well, you should consider selling it and buying somthing else that gives AP. You should have a good bit of cool down reduction by now, especially if you continue to get the blue buff. Use your nuke combo to dominate squishies that get too close, or use it when a carry attacks you (remember however that olaf's ultimate will cause him to be unaffected by your stun, however the ult will still deal damage). Stay safe near the rest of your team mates, Malzahar is easily focused and killed. If you have your Quicksilver Sash, save it for when they enemy team tries to focus you. Lets say ashe shoots her ult at you, use QSS the instant that it hits you and run back. However if ash continues to attack you and you are too slowed to get away, your only option is to turn around and fight her. Squishies fall incredibly easily to malz late game. One CotV will deal over 50% of their hp if you have enough AP. And remember even if you do die, if you remembered to put MV on them, you could still get the kill, and since the kill would be after your death, you would gain 2 stacks, even if you lost some for dieing.
When the enemy tank gets set up in a spot and starts tanking, the best way to grind him down is a Null Zone. While your allies may be slowling picking at his HP, Null Zone will deal % damage, and although it is lessened by Magic Resistance, it will take the tank's HP down very quickly compared to other forms of damage. If you see some one such as Nunu or Galio using their ultimate, if you are not caught in the taunt, one well placed CotV will end their ult immediately. Also remember that CotV can reveal areas, so if you suspect a gank, cast it over a wall and you will get a good view of where you use it.
If the opposing team is attacking the Baron, this is an opportunity to deal massive damage since they are all crowded around the Baron. However do not be the first person to attack, you can get focused and killed instantly. Wait for a tank or some one that can absorb damage to go into their group, then throw out your AOE attacks, you can also try to steal the Baron. If your team is not willing to attack the Baron, lets say that they are seen attacking it but you are in the jungle above them, position yourself along the ridge behind the baron and wait for a good opportunity. When the time is right, use CotV to reveal the Baron's hp and the enemy team, use NZ to deal damage to the Baron and cast MV on the Baron. If you are successful, you can snatch the Baron for your team and leave your enemies enraged. Another good time to use CotV over a wall is to catch a turret hugger that is very deep, you can use it through the wall to hurt them, and then try to MV them. If there is a 5v5 and the enemy team is hugging a turret, snipe them with CotV and bounce MV off minions to keep them harassed, and possibly create an opportunity for a tower dive. If some one strays too far from the turret towards your team, do not hesitate to nuke them down, as it may be your only opportunity for a kill for a while. Your ult should have about a 48 second CD at lvl 18, so use it frequently.
Harassment: Q and E through minions
Farming: E with some help from Q if needed.
Nuking: Q -> E -> W -> R -> Ignite (if necessary)
Items: Go for AP + Magic Pen, get HP or other defensive items only if you are dieing too much.
Runes: CDR for more use of abilities.
Summoner Spells: Flash/Ghost for setting up nuke or running away. Ignite to ensure a kill.
Masteries: Offense for Magic Pen, Utility for mana regen, speed, CDR.
This is my very first build ever, so if there's something I'm missing just post a comment and I will consider adding it. Any other freedback is greatly appreciated :)
Added Update Log chapter.
Added two other potential starting item pairs.
Added Ionian Boots to potential boots of choice.
Added Evil Tome to potential replacement for Mejai's.
Removed Health Potion from main item build, due to Doran's price increase.
Changed colors in Item Choice section
Bolded things in Item Choice section
Added more Rune suggestions
Added patch section
Added AP quints as an option for runes.
Changed up the item build a bit, get BV earlier
Updated the Item Choice section to match the item build, added more alternatives
Added Deathfire Grasp as a good alternative to Soulstealer
Moved Catalyst to earlier in the build, I find it's very useful to lane with
Moved a few Mastery points from Perseverance to Good Hands. Good Hands is more useful
Moved Mastery points from Expanded Mind to Awareness. I find he doesn
t need the extra mana much