Zac Build Guide by SupaSanquin
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What?? Zac is listed as the second least played champion now, after Urgot?! And with one of the lowest winrates too?!? I guess it is time for me to write a guide to convince you of the great potential and hilarious fun that Zac has to offer!
I am sanquin, currectly known as SupsSanquin in LoL on EUW. I am a 30 years old gaming veteran with a history in Warcraft 3 and mostly in shooters. I have won 3 European Quake 2 cups, been Quake 2 team Netherlands team captain and Quake 3 team Netherlands team captain. After I got bored with Quake Live I started playing LoL in the season 3 pre-season in the end of 2012.
When I reached lvl 30 I was placed in Bronze 2 and during season 3 Zac Jungle took me from Bronze 2 to Gold 1 in around 200-250 ranked Zac games. In the 2014 season 4 I went to Platinum 1 still maining Jungle, but I played mostly Rammus since I did not like Zac's nerfs and fit into that meta and played less than 150 ranked Zac games.
However, things have changed much for the blob in this season 5 pre-season! The combination of some small buffs and the jungle redesign have put Zac back into my number 1 favorite jungler spot again and I am sure he can take you to Platinum too!
I apologize beforehand of not making the most fancy-looking, colourful, or well coded guide. I do not really know how this works and have little time to dig into it since I work full time, am getting married, have a house that I am rebuilding, and I do a lot of sports. So I hope you understand my time is limited and I prefer not to put that time in the aesthetics of this guide; I made this to help you enjoy & win games with Zac in the jungle and I hope you appreciate that :)
- Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: Zac’s abilities do only magic damage, and I want to maximize their punch so I run these. Alternatively you can run hybrid penetration marks, which give you a bit less MPen for quite a bit of armor penetration. The armor penetration makes you auto attacks hurt more, but to be honest the auto attacks do so little damage anyway that I do not find this beneficial enough.
- Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: Zac’s abilities do only magic damage, and I want to maximize their punch so I run these. Alternatively you can run hybrid penetration marks, which give you a bit less MPen for quite a bit of armor penetration. The armor penetration makes you auto attacks hurt more, but to be honest the auto attacks do so little damage anyway that I do not find this beneficial enough.
- Greater Seal of Armor: Armor seals help surviving the jungle and help vs AD opponents. With the demise of Elise and Evelyn, nearly all invade-style junglers are AD as well so armor helps versus them too. Some people go for flat HP seals here, but I do not like that in the jungle. Without armor the jungle will eat you alive early game. Additionally, in the first (full) jungle clear you will be at 25% less all the time after clearing the first camp. The nature of Zac’s ability cost of current HP and blob pickup gains of max HP will cause you to drop very quickly from full HP to below 70% HP when jungling. The drop slows exponentially and with some proper micro you will level off somewhere between 10% and 25% of max HP during your first clear. Thus having seals that increase your max HP is not very useful since you lose a lot of the gain in your ability costs anyway. The extra gain from blob pickups would also be extremely small. So for this build, armor seals are much better than HP seals.
- Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist and
- Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Flat MR glyphs help you early game, scaling MR helps late game. Most people run only scaling MR since MR does not help you in the jungle, especially with Elise and Evelynn gone from the meta, and it is a good option indeed. I run a more balanced approach between early and late game. Reason for that is that Zac is amazing late game, and if I get to late game I will likely win the game anyway. The tricky part is in the early game and I like to have just a little bit of extra MR there. I do not build very tank, and I focus a lot of early game ganks on the midlaner. Midlaners are mostly AP, do hurt, and are often mobile too. If not in very low ELO, they will realize that I am actually not tanky at all in early game and put a hell of a lot of magic damage on me. With the little bit of extra early MR I feel more happy in skirmishes with their mid. The difference with only scaling MR is not very big, so vary whichever way you prefer.
I run 9-21-0 masteries, which I find to be the right mix of offence and defense for Zac in this meta. I am not going into each and every individual point, the choices are quite logical. I have experimented with many setups ever since Zac was released; some very unconventional ones too. If I have to rank, I would say 9-21-0 is the best, followed by 0-30-0, ten 21-9-0, and then everything weird. 0-30-0 is very viable as a tank, but in my opinion Zac is not so great as a full tank. There are simply other champions who will be tankier and meanwhile dish out more damage as well. In my opinion you should play Zac in a way that he excells, and that is as a (surprise) engager on squishies, who is then quite hard to kill and deals out significant damage too. With 0-30-0 and a full tank build, you can take a lot of hits and stay in a fight long, but your damage is not at all scary. You will be limited to your knockups and small slow and that is it. You just do not dish out enough damage on your initial burst to scre the squishies you are engaging upon. On the other hand 21-9-0 and (some) AP items as advocated in another new and popular Zac jungle build does give you a scary initial burst. But this comes at a big tradeoff in tankiness which will make you so squishy that even before you are done ulting and knocking everyone around you will likely be dead already. A while ago I experipented with 0-19-11 to get the 3% spellvamp. That 3% spellvamp is applicable to AoE too, so it is quite good on Zac for sustained fights. Too bad Will of the Ancients was nerfed, because I played a lot of spellvamp Zac in early season 3. However currently the sacrifices are much too big to justify the 3% spellvamp in the utility tree. Perhaps if one day I will try it again if the tree gets redesigned so you can get the 3% spellvamp with using only 9 points.
This section is perhaps the most important since the right items choices will more than anything else determine the viability of your champion. There are a few which I consider core, and to start I would like to express my joy with the new jungle items: They are fantastic for Zac! This brings Zac right back into the current meta, especially the Stalker’s Blade! I do not know why so many guides here disregard this item on Zac and go for Ranger’s Trailblazer; Stalker’s is just perfect for Zac: Land a jump, press W, land a Q, ult, smite, kill. If your mid laner or ADC has half a brain and does follow up there is nearly no escape from this deadly gank combo without blowing summoner’s spells; even the most slippery of priority targets will die from these ganks. In my opinion this is what Zac is about: Surprise with a jump, dish out significant damage, and CC the hell out of ‘em so your mid or ADC picks up a kill. If he cannot secure the kill, often you can yourself with your second jump after the CD reset.
So why no Ranger’s Trailblazer? True, the Trailblazer is better at clearing the jungle. That is nice, but not crucial on Zac. Zac’s jungle clear is quite good, or at least good enough in my opinion. If your ADC helps out with the first camp, you can even do a full jungle clear from level 1 without using a single health potion. Really?!? Yes, really. I do not know many champs out there who can do this in the current jungle. There are faster clearers out there, but Zac’s clears are good enough. What defines Zac are his ganks. And I feel Zac shines most if you put your focus on this as well. Stalker’s Blade will trun Zac’s ganks from good to truly terrifying. This is both great fun to play, and very useful for your team so that is what this guide is about: Turn Zac into a deadly ganking CC machine, who is quite tanky but dishes out an always underestimated amount of damage. Upgrading Stalker’s Blade is up to your own preference. If you are new to this champ or have a very squishy team, go for a tanky upgrade. But what I prefer myself is the Magus upgrade. You get AP and 20% CDR. 20%! That is a lot! This will help a lot in your jungle clear, and also in your ganks. I love it!
So what else do you need? Magic Penetration is very good on Zac. Especially since you are an engager who jumps on priority targets that only have limited MR. With a lot of Mpen, you will be dealing close to true damage to them. Zac’s AP ratios are not so great, so most guides will tell you that AP items are quite bad on him. I do not really agree with that. Of course the low AP ratios take away a lot of use from AP items, but what I did not read in any of the guides disregarding these items was the fact that all Zac’s abilities are AoE and designed to hit multiple enemies. And a good Zac player will hit many many enemies with them indeed. Although the AP ratios might not be great, you have to consider that the damage gain from this AP is multiplied by the number of enemies hit. And in Zac’s case that is quite a multiplier. So in the end AP items do give you quite a bit of extra punch and are worth considering. In fact, trying a full AP Zac is quite fun with a great first burst, but in 95% of the team compositions you will be better off with a more balanced build. By balanced I mean that you have some defense against AD and some against AP. Of course on the very rare occasion that the opponents are stupid enough to run a full AD composition this is not true, but that speaks for itself. You have to keep in mind that Zac thrives in extended fights where he can pick up his blobs. So for me a balanced Zac is a Zac that has an initial burst that is scary and surprising enough for squishies, but then has the ability to take a punch and live long enough during the teamfight to continue to dish out more damage and heal himself with his blobs.
My preferred MR item is Spirit Visage. It seems made for Zac. It gives CDR, HP, MR, and increased healing from your blobs. The only time when you can consider NOT buying this is versus a full AD comp, but even then it can be justified becase of its healing effects. Banshee’s Veil is an alternative, but it does not match Spirit Visage’s synergy. But do consider buying Banshee’s as an addition to Spirit Visage when facing AP heavy teams.
For armor, my preferred options are Sunfire Cape or Randuin’s Omen. Both are good, and it is not easy to choose between them. Randuin’s is the more popular choice. It gives a little more health and quite a bit more armor than Sunfire Cape does and the active slow is good too. However, I have recently been choosing Sunfire Cape because in this build I have a lot of Mpen that augments the Cape’s damage, and I have a slow from Stalker’s Blade already. Randuin’s passive is strong as though, and versus a heavy auto attack based team at least one person on your team will need to have Randuin’s. The choice for yourself is a matter of preference and playing style. I like the damage Sunfire Cape does. I have a lot of sticking power and look for prolonged ganks and fights so the Sunfire damage fits my style. Also Sunfire helps a with your jungle clear and that is nice since I do not go for the Ranger’s Trailblazer.
So why not go for the Trailblazer clear + Randuin’s slow, instead of Sunfire’s clear and Stalker’s slow? Both kind of do the same, not? True, but timing is everything. With the Stalker + Sunfire combo you will have your slow much earlier. I like the versatility that this offers; it will make your ganks very potent early on but it also offers a bit of defense in escaping from annoying counter junglers or other tricky situations. Randuin’s is expensive and will be completed relatively late, so you will have the slow late. By that time the laning phase is often over, or the game can even already be decided so your ganking power comes too late. While it is an advantage that Randuin’s slow is AoE so you can slow multiple targets, the nature of Zac as a long range engage champion often limits the slow’s use a bit in teamfights. You will E in, and upon landing is mostly the only time when you can slow multiple enemies. Since you E’d from far away, Randuin’s slow is sometimes already worn off before your team’s damage dealers can reach the slowed enemies. But this is only a minor drawback. I prefer the Stalker’s slow which is single target, but stronger and from longer range. I like the way it fits with Zac’s mobility and sticking power. However, if both me and my team do quite bad in early game, I will build Randuin’s and not Sunfire. Randuins is defensively stronger and you will need that then. But even with Sunfire Cape and Spirit Visage completed you will have 120+ MR and 120+ Armor with quite some hit points. In most teamcomps I find this sufficient and use the other item slots more offensively.
Liandri’s Torment: This item cannot be ignored on Zac, it is just great. The Magic Penetration significantly boosts Zac’s damage. Additionally, Liandri’s damage complements Zac’s W, and Zac’s Q or Stalker’s Blade will double the Liandri burn. Zac’s AoE spammable spells also proc Liandri’s burn on many members of the opposing team. And lastly the extra HP is more than helpful on Zac too.
So we have a core: Stalker's Blade with Magus upgrade, Spirit Visage, Sunfire Cape, and Liandri's Torment. This will give you 120+ armor, 120+ MR, 3000 HP, and quite a lot of damage. In 90% of the game I will have tanked most of the damage of my team, while in 50% of the games I will also be the top or second damage dealer. Add Zac's CC to this and it is easy to see how useful you will be to your team. How to finish the build? This is up to your own imagination, there are many things that work, just be sure to adapt to circumstances.
Let's start with boots. Many (Zac) junglers go for quick mobility boots. This is good for map presence, ganking, and jungle clear by decreased movement time. But how good is this actually? For ganks, I guess in 75% of the cases you will be ganking with an E initiation; only rarely will you be able to use your mobility boots to walk into the lane and use your mobility boots to hit a Q before using E. The map presence and jungle movement speed is helpful for sure, but in my opinion (maxing) his E already gives a lot of map threat presence. Plus you will mostly E into jungle camps too so movement speed does not help there. Lastly, mobility boots mostly do not help when you get surprise invaded, and this is where it can be tough to be Zac.
I prefer to get boots that actually help me in combat. If I am confident and my early game went fine, I go for Sorcerer's Shoes for the Magic Penetration. This is my most common choice this season. Last season I opted mostly for Ninja Tabi and I still get those versus heavy AD autoattack opponents. The last good option is Mercury Treads. This helps vs heavy AP comps, but especially versus those annoying CC comps that hinder Zac in his ability to bounce around the entire opponent's team. Merc Treads can make the difference between being locked down for your entire ultimate, or being free again to knock up the enemies with your final bounce.
The last item is up to you. Abyssal Scepter is a very good option, as is Zhonya's Hourglass. Are you kind of winning and need more AP damage? In some (not so common) cases Rabadon's Deathcap can win the game. Are you the one that needs to wear down mega tanks with your % damage W? Then Void Staff helps a lot chunking their MR down. But definitely do not disregard defensive options; mostly when reading guides we only think about winning. But sometimes you will suck, or your team will suck, and you will simply be losing. Don't try to be Rambo here and get Randuin's Omen or Banshee's Veil. In those cases longelivety is much more important than building damage.