Zed General Guide by Famoose

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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.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Famoose

[S3] Zed -"Forbidden Shadow Wins" - Top Lane Guide

Famoose Last updated on January 26, 2013
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Team 1

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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Welcome everybody to my Zed guide! In this guide, you will learn more about Zed and how to truly become The Master of Shadows.

This is a Guide. Please do not just look at the Cheat Sheet as you most likely will not do well. Constructive Critisms are accepted and if you we're to up vote or down vote this guide, please explain why so I can improve this guide.

And without further ado, I present to you, Zed - "Forbidden Shadow Wins" Top Lane Guide!

Let us start off with a nicely done Champion Spotlight to let you guys know who exactly The Master of Shadows is.

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Zed's Story...

Zed's Lore

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Pros / Cons

Pros / Cons


+ // Great Burst Damage
+ // Good Positioning with Living Shadow
+ // Good Gap Closer
+ // Extremely Good Laning Phase
+ // Last Hitting made easier with Contempt for the Weak
+ // Extremely Good Harass

- // No Hard CC
- // Rather Squishy for an AD Caster
- // Requires Living Shadow for significant damage
- // Requires a bit of practice
- // CC will kill Zed
- // Needs farm

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Runes and Masteries


Greater Mark of Armor Penetration

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

For Runes, I take these for Armor Penetration, Attack Damage, Armor and Magic Resist to help increase Zed's Damage and Durabiity in fights.


For Masteries, I take 21/9/0 to allow Zed to have maximum damage output as well as a good defensive stats for durability.

Offensive Tree

  • Summoner's Wrath to help give you 5 AD when Ignite is on Cooldown. This will increase your damage which is good.
  • Sorcery gives you Cooldown Reduction to help you deal damage faster with your abilities. This will help you use 2 Shadow Slashs during your Death Mark, allowing your ultimate to deal even more damage.
  • Butcher to help deal more damage to minions, allowing you to last hit and farm.
  • Deadliness will give you Attack Damage per level, giving you 12 Attack Damage at Level 18. This will help you increase your damage late game.
  • Destruction will help increase your damage to towers, allowing you to take it down faster.
  • Havoc will increase your total damage by 2%. This is great! It allows your Death Mark to deal even more damage.
  • Weapon Expertise grants you 8% armor penetration for maximum b*tch slapping. Allowing you to deal even more damage, especially to people who buy armor.
  • Brute Force grants you 3 Attack Damage to help in your early game. I creasing your AD to allow you to farm and harass.
  • Sunder gives you 6 Armor Penetration to help you in killing people.
  • Executioner ... Wait, isn't it like your Passive? Woah! Yeah! This will increase your damage dealt to your targets below 50% health, in conjunction with your passive, you will be dealing tons of damage.

Defensive Tree

  • Perseverance gives you increased health regen based on your missing health. This gives you more sustain in lane. (This is not Garen's Passive ability)
  • Durability will grant you bonus health per level for more tankiness.
  • Hardiness will grant you additional armor for more survivalbility
  • Resistance will grant you bonus magic resist.

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Summoner Spells

  • You should always take this especially when you are going for Assassin Zed. Since it will be dealing True Damage to enemy champions and apply Grievous Wounds to them to reduce their healing, Ignite is the best for you.

  • Can be used offensively or defensively, it teleports you a distance. You can use Flash to go through walls and escape or, even use it to chase people down if you Living Shadow is not enough. This also should be used on most Assassins like Zed.

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Skill Explanation

Skill Explanations

Contempt for the Weak
Zed's basic attacks against targets below 50% health deal 8% of the target's maximum health as bonus magic damage. This effect can only occur once every 10 seconds on the same target.

  • A very Strong Passive Early-Mid Game. It also helps you in last hitting creeps. It chunks 8% of the enemies health in magic damage, 8%! Use this to last hit effectively and effectively harass opponents below 50% health. Of course there is a cooldown to this, or else it would kind of be Overpowered. but 10 seconds is a reasonable cooldown time.

Razor Shuriken

Active: Zed and his shadows throw their shurikens, each dealing 75 / 110 / 145 / 180 / 215 (100% bonus AD) physical damage to the first enemy they pass through and 60 / 88 / 116 / 144 / 172 (+80% bonus AD) physical damage enemies thereafter.

Living Shadow: Additional shurikens striking the same enemy deal 50% damage and restore energy.

  • Awesome Ranged Poke ability and farming ability! You can use it to farm effectively from far range, or you could use it to harass the opponent, even if he hides behind his creeps. The projectile is somewhat slower than you might expect, but after some practice, you will get used to it. Note that it does deal lesser damage to the targets behind the first target hit.
  • If you use Living Shadow and 2 Razor Shurikens hit the same target, the second shuriken will deal only 50% of the damage, however, it also restores energy. See Living Shadow Section below.

Living Shadow

Passive: Zed's bonus attack damage is increased by 5 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 25%.

Active: Zed's shadow dashes forward, remaining in place for 4 seconds. Reactivating this ability will cause Zed to switch positions with this shadow.

Zed's shadow will mimic his basic abilities. If both strike the same target Zed regains 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40. Energy can only be restored once per mimicked ability.

  • Zed's Bread and Butter Ability and this is what makes him The Master of the Shadows
  • It passively increases Zed's Attack Damage by a percentage depending on the level of the skill. It's passive is like Rabadon's Deathcap but it is AD and not AP.
  • It's Active is pretty cool. Zed spawns a shadow at a location. This Shadow mimics all of Zed's Abilities. If an ability strikes the same target, Zed restores some energy.
  • Re-activating this ability cause Zed to swap locations with his shadow. This allows good mobility and positioning, as well as an escape tool. You can use this to get over walls like Flash.
  • Using Shadow Slash with Zed himself and it hits a target, the cooldown on Living Shadow is reduced by 1 second for each enemy struck.

Shadow Slash

Active: Zed and his shadows create a burst of shadow, dealing 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 / 180 (+80% bonus AD) physical damage to nearby enemies.

Zed's slash reduces the cooldown of Living Shadow by 1 second for each enemy struck. His shadows' slashes slow enemies by 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40% for 1.5 seconds.

Living Shadow: Overlapping Shadow Slashes striking the same enemy deal no additional damage but will incur an increased slow of 30 / 37.5 / 45 / 52.5 / 60% and restore energy.

  • A good Melee AoE spell which also slows the target. Good amount of damage as well. Good for farming, or just chunking your target's health.
  • Use Zed's slash to reduce th Cooldown of Living Shadow by 1 second.
  • Use the shadow's slash to slow your enemies.
  • If slashes overlap, the target will be slowed even more, but take no additional damage, meaning to say that the target on takes the damage of 1 Shadow Slash.
  • Overlapping Shadow Slashes will restore energy.
  • Shadow Slash only has a Cooldown of 3 seconds, however, spamming it will consume quite a bit of energy.

Death Mark

Active: Zed becomes untargetable and dashes to target enemy champion. Upon arrival, he marks the target for death and spawns a living shadow behind the target. This shadow lasts 4 seconds and mimics Zed's abilities. Reactivating Death Mark will cause Zed to switch positions with this shadow.

After 3 seconds, the mark will detonate, dealing physical damage equal to 100% of Zed's attack damage plus 20 / 35 / 50% of damage dealt of all magic and physical damage dealt to the target by Zed and his shadows while the mark was active.

  • This ultimate is really strong. Enemy Tower Diving you like a noob? No Sweat. This Ultimate makes you dash to enemy's location, making you untargetable when you dash towards your target.
  • Let us break this skill down into parts as it gets really complicated. First of all, you will become untargetable and dash to your opponent, marking him with death.
  • Secondly, it spawns a Living Shadow behind your target. This does not consume your Living Shadow, thus you can have up to 3 shadows at one time.
  • Re-Activating this ability will cause you to swap places with this ability's shadow.
  • After 3 Seconds of the ultimate, the mark will detonate and deal damage equal to your total Attack Damage and a percentage of the damage dealt when Death Mark is active. Meaning to say, it encourages you to deal the most amount of damage within the period of your Ultimate.
  • Remember, this ultimate makes you untargetable, so you can use this to dodge whatever the heck you want!
  • Timing is what makes or breaks a Zed player. Using this at the wrong time will severely screw you over. However, using it at the right time will guarantee a kill.

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Skill Sequence

Skill Sequence
Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

So why Razor Shuriken over your Shadow Slash? Doesn't Shadow Slash deal more damage and it has a much shorter cooldown?
  • First of all, your Razor Shuriken is a ranged ability and your Shadow Slash is melee. This will affect your gameplay. By maxing your Razor Shuriken first, you are able to poke, harass and farm from far distances. However, maxing your Shadow Slash makes you want to go up to the minions and farm, which might put you in danger. If you do max Shadow Slash first, your Razor Shuriken will be left at Level 1 and you can't deal much damage at long range and farming with your Q will be harder.
  • Secondly, if you were to take a look at the description of Living Shadow, it does say overlapping shadows deal no additional damage. However, Razor Shurikens that overlap deal damage, but only 150%. If you were to calculate out, you will be dealing more damage with your Razor Shuriken than Shadow Slash.

Why max Living Shadow last? I thought it was going to be your most important skill?

  • First of all, let us break it down into parts. It passively increases Zed's AD and this amount increases per level of Living Shadow. However, the increase is a percentage and in the early stages of the game, your Attack Damage will not be high at all to actually allow this passive ability to be significant. You would rather get more AD from items instead of ranking this up first.
  • Next, at all ranks, it does what it does. Mimic your abilities and allow you to swap positions. The only difference is the cooldown. And with this being said, there is no need for you to rank this up as it still serves the same purpose. And what is more, you dont have to care about the cooldown as each of Zed's Shadow Slash will reduce it by 1 second for each enemy struck.

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Skill Combos!

Skill Combos

  • This Combo will be your main combo and should be used most of the time. This allows for some great burst on to a single target and will deal tons of damage after Death Mark procs.
  • Engage on to your target with Death Mark and upon arrival, Shadow Slash to gain some energy back and slow the target as well. This allows you to have an easy aim on Razor Shuriken as he will be slowed to hell. Missing your Razor Shurikens should not happen, unless your target flashes. You can put in Ignite anywhere in the combo or even before you use the combo.
  • This combo is also very safe. Since this combo does not include Living Shadow, if you find yourself in a bad spot, just use this to escape!

  • This combo is similar to the one above, however this combo does even more damage
  • Similar to the one above, you will engage with Death Mark and immediately toss out another Living Shadow. Now you would have 3 Shadows. Shadow Slash immediately to slow your target and throw 3 Razor Shurikens at him. Death Mark will proc to deal tons of damage.
  • This combo is highly recommended if you know you wont be in deep trouble wasting your Living Shadow. This combo has a high risk high reward thing as you wont have an escape tool after you kill your target.

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Starting Items

  • Always a good start for any champion. Boots of Speed gives you some movement speed to dodge skillshots, escape or chase. Health Potions are good for the sustain in lane as well.


  • Pick this up if you are up against a heavy AD lane. Eg: Fiora. Cloth Armor will reduce the damage you take and with 5 Health Potions, you will be able to sustain in lane pretty well.

First Items

  • Doran's Blade is always a good item to take for your first few items. Gives you Health, Attack Damage and health when you attack an enemy target. This includes enemy minions. Doran's Blades do stack this it is a good item for sustain as well.

  • Good Item which can be built into The Black Cleaver later. The Brutalizer gives you attack damage, armor penetration and Cooldown reduction. This item will give you an early game high damage output, along side with your double Doran's Blade. You will be able to burst down people rather quickly.

  • Pick this up only if you are having a hard time in an AP lane. It gives you some magic resist and a shield if you take magic damage which would be lethal to you. You can get this early as you may want to build it into the Maw of Malmortius later on.

CORE Assassin Items

  • Most amount of Attack Damage you can get from an item in the game. Gives you a maximum of 100 AD for maximum b*tch slapping. Gives some Lifesteal for sustain. Good item and a must have for Zed to severely increase his damage output.

  • Good item overall. It allows you to dive in and out in team fights. Guardian Angel makes you revive with 750 health upon death. However, that should not happen as people will not be focussing you as you won't die even after your "Death". Don't forget the armor and magic resist it gives. I would get this usually after The Bloodthirster.

  • 40% Armor Penetration and some Attack Damage is awesome. You should get this right after your Guardian Angel or if you are going with the Tanky AD Build, after your Warmog's Armor.

CORE Tanky Items

  • Grants 1000 Health and health regen to allow you to kill the b*tches while tanking every single one of them. It will severely help you in the fights as they would no focus someone who has tons of health like you. Good Item on Zed, especially when you are playing Tanky AD Zed.

  • Grants Health, Armor Penetration, Attack Damage and Cooldown Reduction. This is such a good item! This will increase your damage even though you are tanky as hell. Take this after your Warmog's Armor.

  • Good Item with Attack Damage, 700 Health and a slow. Good item especially when you are chasing people down, the slow will help you catch up to them. Not only that, the health on this item is also massive, allowing you to tank a lot of damage.

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5 Bloodthirsters!?!

This section explains why you can choose to go 5 The Bloodthirsters on Zed.

First of All, what can 5 The Bloodthirsters do?

  • 5 of these would grant you the following: 500 AD and 90% Lifesteal with full stacks.

    WHAT!?! Yes. 500 Attack Damage and 90% Lifesteal.

Secondly, consider the passive on Living Shadow.

Passive: Grants Zed 5/10/15/20/25% additonal bonus AD.

  • This means that you will have even more AD. If you do calculate out, with Masteries, Runes, and Zed'a base AD, you will have this 789.6875 Total Attack Damage at Level 18, with 5 fully stacked The Bloodthirsters. With a 90% Lifesteal, can you ever die?

This concludes that 5 The Bloodthirsters is viable and it does work, but I would only recommend using this when you are either super fed, or when your team is just gonna lose.

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Living Shadow

This section will be explaining more about Zed's Living Shadow Ability.

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Early Game

Laning Phase

  • Start off with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potions and head over to the top lane. You should be the solo top for your team, if not, so be it.
  • Last Hit Creeps with your basic attacks or Razor Shuriken. Try to aim your Razor Shuriken such that it only hits 1 Minion, or such that it will also hit your lane opponent who is also trying to farm minions of his own.
  • Try not to engage in a fight with your lane opponent as Zed is much weaker than other champions Pre-Level 6. Always focus on farming.
  • If your Jungler comes for a gank, you should not be the one engaging if you do not have your Death Mark. However, in some cases your Jungler does not have any CC to gank, you should engage. Open with Living Shadow and swap places, hit your Shadow Slash to apply the slow and toss Razor Shurikens at him. Keep attacking his with basic attacks and proc your passive when he is below 50% health, as well as Shadow Slashing when ever it is up. Ignite if only you know he is going to die to your damage.

Mid Game

  • The first few towers have gone down already. And you are in the mid game. By this time, you should at least have double Doran's Blades and The Brutalizer. If you do not, you are behind in gold and you should catch up.
  • You should be sticking with your team if you are doing well and mini team fights should happen. You should always aim the target with the most damage, in most cases, should be the Enemy AD Carry. If not, focus the AP Carry or the Most Squishiest Target Available.
  • Down towers with your team as you are going to help in killing towers fast.

Late Game

  • Zed's Late Game is really strong. You will be super important in Team Fights.
  • You should have your The Bloodthirster, Guardian Angel or Warmog's Armor, or even The Black Cleaver.
  • In Team Fights, dive for their AD Carry. If you are going Assassin Zed, you should go in last. If you are playing Tanky AD Zed, go in whenever you want. However, you should not be the one engaging. Kill off the AD Carry. And proceed to kill the AP Carry or Support.
  • Focus them in this order: AD Carry>AP Carry>Support>Bruiser/Jungler>Tank.

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Coming Soon!

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Thank you all so much for reading my guide! I appreciate Constructive Critisms and of course, feel free to up vote or downvote this guide, stating the reason for doing so in the comments so I can improve this guide!

Once again, thank you all so much for reading Zed - "Forbidden Shadow Wins" Top Lane Guide.

Have a wonderful day and go on, summoners... To become, The Master of Shadows.

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Thank You!

Thanks to jhoijhoi for the template, which you can find here.

Thanks to all of you for checking out my guide!

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Update Log

27/1/2013- Guide Published


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