Zac Build Guide by Krynul
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.
This is my first attempt to make a champion guide. I've had several champions I've been dying to make a guide about, but Zac happens to be the first one to get me so excited that I had to make the plunge. Ever since I started playing league I've had a passion for playing tanky champions. The harder I can be to kill the more fun I get out of the game. I've put almost the entirety of my League of Legends experience into learning how to become as obnoxiously tanky as absolutely possible. With over 1400 games at the time of writing under my belt I'd like to consider myself at least experienced in that regard.
In terms of my raw skill I consider myself an average player if not slightly above average. I float around a 1250 elo, and in my normal games I have a roughly 49.9% win ratio. To anyone well versed in the elo system of League of Legends that means I am sitting at my proper elo. Anyone with an above 50% win ratio is outpacing the game's ability to place them and is an exceedingly talented player. I make no claim to be a god or a professional at this game, merely an experienced player who has taken his lumps and hopes to present the community with something to offer.
That leaves us with the final question. What kind of results do I get with Zac? What experiences with him did I have to compel me to write this guide? The truth is when I play Zac I have a tremendous amount of fun. Zac is amazingly adept at surviving fights, oftentimes from altogether wretched situations that would doom most other champions entirely. I find him to be an incredibly fast and durable jungler with limited counter jungling capabilities and strong ganks. A combination not found in many other champions. In team fights he is disruptive and puts out a respectable amount of damage without much investment.
Here is an example of the results I get with Zac using this build:
For those of you who notice that I don't always get a large number of kills. I'd like to direct your attention to the limited number of deaths and high number of assists I get regularly each game. This is the goal of my playstyle. To support my allies and survive the fight. If you are looking for a KDR I highly recommend you search for another guide.
Pros / Cons
Great clear times
Moderate counter jungle ability
Moderate to high disruption
Not incredibly damaging
Situational difficulties with escaping
There isn't too much choice when it comes to this. Smite and Flash are an absolute must. I am a firm believer that ALL junglers should use smite even if they don't absolutely require it. Not only does it speed up EVERY jungler's clear time, but it is the jungler's duty to steal buffs and objectives. If you play a champions such as Nunu or Cho'Gath smite only serves to absolutely ensure objective dominance and clear times. Zac is not even close to being an exception to this rule.
Flash is also a must. Aside from being arguably the best summoner spell in the game, Zac has quite a bit to gain from positioning. He can flash during his ult to secure more knockups and slows, he can flash before he attempts to slingshot in order to ensure a safe escape. If his slingshot is prevented he can use it for a quick escape. The uses for flash on Zac are all too numerous and important. When Zac ganks, he is not the damage dealer, he is the disruptor so ignite isn't really necessary. He also has 3 forms of CC in his kit (more depending on how you count your cc), so exhaust isn't really important. On the other hand, if he can't reach his opponent, he can't be of any use. Flash is absolutely necessary for this play style.
This is Zac's passive. Upon reaching 0 health, instead of dying, Zac splits up into four bloblets which attempt to reform giving him a % of his health depending on how many bloblets survive to reform. Essentially this is a built in guardian angel, or a variant of Anivia's passive. I want to stress that you should never count on using this ability. An enemy can stop you from reforming by killing the bloblets and it is on an incredibly long cooldown. It is for emergency use ONLY, never needlessly rely on your passive when you can escape on foot. It is not a guaranteed survival!
Also, every time one of Zac's abilities inflicts damage on an enemy a bloblet is created. Stepping on this bloblet heals Zac for 4% of his maximum health. Since all of Zac's abilities cost him 4% of his current health, Zac can use this to keep himself greatly sustained, especially at low amounts of health.
This ability is your Q and in my opinion your third priority (after your R and W respectively). This skill shot deals damage to all enemies it passes through and slows them. Leveling this up lowers the cooldown, increases the damage, and enhances the potency of your slow. The ability to spam it in the jungle and also apply your slow more often makes it more valuable than leveling your E.
This is your W and deals base damage +percent health magic damage in a radius around Zac. This is your primary jungling tool and potentially Zac's most lethal basic ability. This combined with it's low cooldown allowing Zac to heal as often as absolutely possible means that this is our main priority next to our ultimate.
When activated, this ability causes Zac to charge up a ranged skillshot. Activating it a second time launches Zac into the air, and upon landing, knocks up any enemies in range. This ability is useful for initiating ganks and teamfights as well as for catching enemies or escaping. The primary benefit of leveling this would be the cooldown reduction. It's great for ganks and the extra damage and healing bloblet while jungling, but it will never be spammable enough to be a priority. Great as this ability is, the base cooldown is just too high to focus on when we can be spamming our slow. If you wish you can level this third in place of your Q, but I recommend leveling this last.
Zac leaps up into the air and bounces three times. Enemies are knocked up the first time they come into contact with Zac and are slowed each bounce afterwards. While this ability is active, Zac becomes incredibly resistant to crowd control and has slightly increased movement speed. It is important to note that your Q and E stop functioning while your ultimate is activated, though your W still works. It should be obvious that you should level this whenever possible.
Gank Combo #1:
E > Q > W
This is your standard gank combo before level 6 or when you don't feel your ultimate is necessary. The goal here is to hit your target with your E, knocking them up. Immediately after you hit them with your Q keeping them slowed. We use our Q first to get it into play and on cooldown as fast as possible since your W is on a much shorter cooldown. It is entirely possible that you might get a second W in before your Q comes off cooldown.
Gank Combo #2:
E > R > W > Q
This combo is for use with your ultimate. You can easily land your E and move directly into your R allowing your nearby allies as much disruption time as possible while leaving your enemies as little time as possible to escape your abilities. If possible your finish up with your Q in a last ditch effort to keep them debilitated in hopes of an ally picking up the kill.
Gank Combo #3:
E > Q > R > W > Q
This is a riskier combo but can be a deadly one on champions with little ability
to disengage. By using your Q after you land your E, you can maximize your damage and the amount of time that the opponent is debilitated. This does, however, leave a window open for your opponent to use flash or another blink or dash in order to escape and break the combo. I only recommend this combo if you doubt your opponent has the ability to interrupt or evade you. It's also a great opener for teamfights since it is doubtful their entire team can avoid most of the combo and combo #2 isn't much more likely to catch their whole team anyways.
Purchase Order Overview
Hunter's Machete, Health Potions x5
This is a standard jungling start. It gives Zac maximum sustain since even he cannot endure the jungle forever early game while allowing him to clear as quickly as possible. For those considering a cloth armor instead I would like to point out that the faster you kill the jungle creeps the less damage you take while also moving through the jungle faster. In comparison the cloth armor only preserves your health and doesn't actually speed your clear time. You also want to rush your Spirit of the Ancient Golem, so I highly recommend the Machete.
First Trip Back:
Optimally you get your boots and finish your Spirit of the Ancient Golem. I tend to find I can finish my Spirit Stone, get my boots, and have enough left over for a Ruby Crystal or a Kindlegem. We're looking to create the Spirit of the Ancient Golem/Boots of Swiftness combo to give us maximum movement speed and CC resistance. DO NOT BUILD MERCURY TREADS! It may be second nature for many people to build it, but it is a waste of gold in combination with the Spirit of the Ancient Golem. I myself have fallen victim to this urge many times.
You should have finished your Spirit of the Ancient Golem and your Boots of Swiftness now. I'm aware this is going to look odd, but I often build three Giant's Belts at this point. I often have enough gold to flat out buy all three at this point since the previous items allow me such incredible sustain. I find that buying three Giants belts makes me absolutely irresistibly tanky at this point in the game. It is possible to buy a Warmog's instead of these two items for similar amounts of health and much greater regeneration, but if you notice, the three giant's belts give me a start on two core items and an optional item giving me more build flexibility and making upgrades more palatable. Technically speaking there is nothing wrong with flat out buying a Warmog's at this point, but you may find it painful if you desperately need to finish your armor item all of a sudden.
You also get the added bonus of a few laughs when the enemy team notices your build and starts flipping out that the guy who bought almost nothing but Giant's Belts is being this much of a pest. ;)
Here you start finishing your item upgrades. Each item you complete gives you a huge and noticeable advantage. Build whatever you need at the moment. If the enemy AD is getting difficult to deal with, or if you need to dive towers often, Randuin's is your best friend. If you're struggling with an enemy mage, buy your Spirit Visage. If you want to keep stacking health, or are dealing with varied damage sources complete the Warmog's.
If you want to press the offensive you can turn your last Giant's Belt into a Rylai's Crystal Scepter giving you massive amounts of slowing power on all your AoE's as well as enhanced damage. The health is merely a bonus.
If, by chance, the enemy carries are incredibly fed you will need to consider a move defensive option. Runic Bulwark will top off your sheer defensive capabilities if you think you need a slight boost. The passive may also drag your team into line during a fight as well. Another option is Guardian Angel which not only makes you a bit tankier, but stacks with your passive to make you utterly obnoxious to kill.
In Depth Item Explanation
As I stated in my introduction, I put a priority on defensive capabilities when I play a champion. I have brought the process of itemizing for tanks down to a science. The items I have chosen for Zac are specifically selected to make him as completely and utterly tanky as possible while wasting as little gold as possible. If you have followed my build correctly, you will find you have somewhere in the ball park of 5100+ health, 160+ armor, and 120+ magic resistance. These numbers are almost perfectly optimal for maximum effective health, while maxing out Zac's unique qualities, and wasting as little gold as possible.
Spirit of the Ancient Golem: This item is chosen because the stats are so incredibly helpful to Zac. The regeneration keeps him in the jungle and allows him to reach a state of equilibrium where he can sustain himself. Zac benefits massively by building health because his passive gives him back a flat % of his maximum health. The cooldown reduction is greatly appreciated by Zac and in this build it is possible for him to max out his CDR. This is also his source of tenacity allowing him to become highly resistance to CC, insanely so when his ultimate is activated.
Boots of Swiftness: These boots allow for maximum movement speed as well as CC resistance. They are an absolute must have in my opinion. With the removal of Force of Nature, tanks rarely reach the movement speed Zac is capable of achieving with this build. This mobility is a wonderful thing to have. Other boots are possible such as Sorcer Treads and Ninja Tabi. These boots are situational however and all other boots are absolutely useless with this build. DO NOT BUILD THEM!
=> Enchantments: I recommend Alacrity. Maxing out your base movement speed is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Zac is entirely AoE damage so furor is useless. You're not overly faster than most of your allies, so Captain is a bit silly. You're not focusing on maxing summoner spell cooldowns so Distortion isn't advisable. This leaves Homegaurd as your only other viable option. As Zac it is unlikely that you will ever actually have to return to your base, so homegaurd is really only useful if you're actually making a last ditch effort to defend the base.
Warmog's Living Armor: This item needs little explanation on a tank. It is the largest chunk of sheer health in the game, and it also gives you great regeneration. This item is an absolute must have, every Zac should consider it. I consider this point completely without debate. This item is a priority!
Randuin's Omen: This item is somehow under appreciated. It is by FAR superior to Sunfire Cape in almost every imaginable situation. I simply do not understand why people are so enamored with sunfire cape. Randuin's base stats alone give you vastly more effective health than Sunfire Cape and that's before we add in the plethora of passive and active effects which make you untouchable. Sunfire Cape is ONLY advisable on champions who are either focusing on AoE damage (I.E. Dr. Mundo, Amumu) or champions who are absolutely struggling to push a lane (I.E. Shen). Please get Randuin's Omen!
Spirit Visage: This item gives us healtth which as I've dicussed is a cornerstone to a good Zac build. It gives us our pool of magic resistance allowing us to shrug off the AP carry. In combination with the Spirit of the Ancient Golem, it gives us 30% cooldown reduction, an Elixir of Brilliance away from 40% CDR. Most importantly, it gives us a 20% healing buff. This means we spend 4% of our current health, to get 5% of our maximum health back. It sounds small, but it adds up and can save your bacon. It also combines with Warmog's Living Armor to give you tremendous passive sustain.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter: If you're looking to maintain your damage late game, this item is your go to. It gives us more health bringing us to an incredible 5300+ health, it gives us AP giving all our abilities a slight boost, and most obnoxiously of all, it strengthens the plethora of AoE slows on Zac and turns his W into yet another source of CC. I love building this as my final item so much that I have actually factored it into my midgame build as the third giant's belt. If you know you aren't building this item, feel free to buy only two giant's belt and put the 1000 gold towards a warmog's or perhaps a warden's mail or kindlegem.
Liandry's Torment: With all those slows you will almost always proc the passive on this item. It gives you health and AP (though nowhere near as much as Rylai's), and some magic penetration. It is a good and all round item, and is rather popular in many Zac builds. Since I care less about my damage output and more about my sheer bulk and utility to my team, I lean more heavily on Rylai's.
Runic Bulwark: This is currently the premier magic resistance item in the game. If you are against an AP heavy team, or just need a little something to push your team to victory, this is the item for you. A focus of my build is cost effectiveness however, and as such I must urge you not to buy this item if more than one person on your team has it already. This item is most effective when two people have it. For every person who buys it past that point, it becomes increasingly less effective. Seeing as how it is one of the single most important items in the game, it is entirely likely someone will want to pick a fight over this item, let them have it and go buy a Rylai's. If your team already has it, it will do little good to you.
Gaurdian Angel: At this point in the game, the resistances will do you little good in terms of gold effectiveness. If you are buying this item for the resistances, it is likely because the enemy team has a large amount of armor shred and penetration. The real value of this item is the passive (as if that wasn't obvious). It combines with your passive to make you absurdly difficult to take out. This is the item you buy if the enemy team is incredibly fed and you absolutely must ensure your survival.
Optimal Tanking Stats: Achieving Maximum Effective Health
I mentioned above that I specifically chose these items to achieve maximum defensive stats while maintaining cost-effectiveness. After years of playing tanks and studying how tank stats work I have brought tank itemization down to a science. In addition to maximizing Zac's strengths as a champion, and minimizing his weaknesses, my build is designed to help him reach the highest possible "Effective Health" while wasting as little gold as possible.
What is "Effective Health" you may be asking? Effective health the actual amount of damage it takes to reduce your health to 0 when you factor in your HP, armor, and magic resistance. For instance, if you have 3000 health and 100 armor and an enemy deals 3000 attack damage to you, you won't die. In fact, they will need to deal 6000 damage to kill you. This means against attack damage, you have 6000 "Effective Health".
Both health, and resistances increase your effective health, and you need some combination of all three to achieve optimal tanking stats. What many players fail to realize though, is how exactly resistances function. When you buy resistances you are awarded a certain % of damage reduction. As your armor increases however, you get less % damage reduction per point of armor bought. This means that at some point, it's more gold effective to simply buy health than it is to keep buying resistances. This is put into place to prevent players from ever realistically reaching 100% damage reduction (as a fun note, it takes about 2,000,000 armor to achieve 100% damage reduction!).
Many players who have gone to the League of Legends wiki have found a quote describing effective health that has lead them to believe that armor and effective health scales on a 1:1 ratio. It is not true! If you need evidence of this, simply go into a custom game against bots and start buying resistances. Hoever with your mouse over your armor and magic resistance, and you'll find that as you buy resistances, your % damage reduction gained begins to fall off and it gets harder and harder to increase.
Below is a link to an article describing exactly how resistances scale:
Your text to link here...
You'll notice that resistances scale reasonably well until they hit 100. Once you reach 100 armor or magic resistance the drop of begins to become more severe. By 150 the gains in reduction per point of resistance are becoming increasingly poor, and by 175 the gains have become somewhat pitiful. You are paying for each point of armor or magic resistance and getting fewer and fewer % of damage reduction. This means that past 100 armor or magic resistance, mitigation becomes to become less gold effective, and by 150 it becomes impractical to buy much more.
At this point you will want to start investing in health. Since health does not in any way fall off as you buy it, it becomes the single most important statistic to invest in. The more health you can pack on at this point the more Effective Health you will achieve. Hence why I believe my build is the most optimal build for Zac by being efficient not only with his traits as a champion, but by also being incredibly cost-efficient for the amount of late game bulk it gives him.
5000+ Health: Far more health than almost any of my other builds can accomplish. This is excellent!
160+ Armor: Higher than our 150 benchmark, but not excessively so. Since a bulk of the damage in the game between minions, turrets, and champions is attack damage this is perfectly reasonable. Even more so when we consider the proliferation of armor penetration in today's metagame. The extra armor at least gives us a buffer against armor reduction and penetration.
120+ Magic Resistance: It takes us right into the sweet spot between 100 and 150 MR. It allows for a buffer against passive Magic Pen and wastes very little gold to make up for the slight bit of excess in armor.
Jungling isn't terribly complex with Zac. His sustain and the % health damage on his W allows him a huge number of jungle paths and a great deal of choice. I myself prefer to start with wolves and then go to blue. If possible ask your allies to give you extra damage so you can save your smite. This allows you to save it for red giving you an incredibly fast clear. After getting blue I simply cut a swath through my jungle killing everything in my path. Zac even has the option of comfortably killing the mini golems on his first clear, something many junglers opt to ignore since they often dish out and take more damage than they are worth dealing with early on. After that you simply run back and forth killing camps as fast as they respawn and ganking when you can. You'll often run out of camps to kill in which case you can scout the enemy's jungle. Try and leave a small minion to stunt their growth!
Advice for Jungling:
Use your E for speed: Feel free to leap over walls. This helps you greatly reduce your clear times.
Spam abilities to sustain: Use your abilities as fast as you can as often as they are off cooldown. This will keep you going!
Try to last hit with your abilities: If possible try and last hit camps with your abilities. Why just auto attack when you can get a heal off? It's often worth it.
Save your E while counter jungling: If you're in the enemy's jungle, you should consider having your flash or your E ready for a quick escape. Hang out near walls to reduce your charge time!
Feel free to use your ultimate when taking important objectives: it's on a relatively short cooldown, particularly with my build. If it helps you kill a buff or dragon faster and get to your side of the jungle, USE IT!
I'd like to thank everyone who has made it this far for reading my first guide. I will be making improvements as I can to it and am open to any advice or help I can get, particularly with BBC as I have almost no understanding of it. Even more importantly, I hope my guide to building Zac has been incredibly useful to you. He is a great and flexible champion (lame humor not intended) and I hope everyone who tries my build has as much fun using it as I myself do.