Zed Build Guide by zergkops
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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.
Solo-top/top/mid all in one!
Core Purchase Order
Options for Item 5
Entire Purchase Order
this can be item #6
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.
News and Other Important Guide Information
ALL INFORMATION IN THE BUILD SUMMARY ABOVE RECOMMENDED RUNES COULD BE WRONG.
It does the math with all items, even the ones that build into something else. Waiting on MOBAfire to fix this new season 3 guide builder bug. (this did not happen in the old builder, hopefully will be fixed soon :D.) Also, this can be caused (at least affecting Attack Damage) because of Living Shadow passive AD increase.
TRY OUT THE BUILD MORE THAN ONCE BEFORE YOU DOWNVOTE!
People that try the build once and assume it's bad because it didn't work well in ONE game have a very biased opinion because they only played one game. I don't mind if you down vote, provided that the vote has a reasonable basis and more than 2 games of testing if the vote is build-related.
THE DISTORTION ENCHANTMENTS IN "OTHER OPTIONS FOR ITEM #5" PURELY SEPARATE THE DIFFERENT ITEM'S PURCHASE ORDERS. DO NOT BUY THE ENCHANTMENTS THERE.
MAKE SURE TO NOTE THAT THE BLACK CLEAVER IS EQUALLY RECOMMENDED TO THE PHANTOM DANCER!
GUIDE IS UPDATED FOR SEASON 3!
Enjoy fellow Zed players!
I request that you leave a comment when you downvote, although I am not going to require it because I feel like that is rude to those that just want to vote and move on. However, if too many people downvote without leaving me a reason to fix, I WILL require comments. To my fellow top spot competetors: I have a feeling that you guys are having your friends downvote, because I have gotten the highest ratio of them while I've been in top spot. Please don't make me prove my suspicion by requiring comments, it's rude to everyone else.
I am looking into the creation of a "The Where's, When's, Why's, and How's of Ganking and Warding". Please let me know a good website for image hosting, because that chapter would require one and at the moment I don't have one to use.
If you just locked in or random'ed Zed and need some quick pointers, I suggest checking out:
- this chapter.
- pros/cons chapter.
- ability explanation chapters.
- skill combos chapter.
- if you have time, escaping ganks with Living Shadow chapter.
For those of you people that don't like reading lots of info, here's a basic rundown of the guide.
Contempt for the Weak is Zed's passive and deals damage to targets below 50% health.
Razor Shuriken is a skill shot that scales very well with AD and deals less damage to targets beyond the first. I recommend smartcasting this ability.
Living Shadow throws an uninterruptable skill shot that spawns a shadow that mimicks your abilities.
Shadow Slash deals AoE damage around you and your Living Shadows. A shadow's slash will slow.
Death Mark is Zed's ultimate. It causes you to become untargettable, dash to target champion, and spawn a living shadow behind them.
Always throw your Razor Shuriken so it hits enemy champion before enemy minions.
Reactivate Living Shadow to swap locations with your shadow. Same with Death Mark.
Your job in teamfights is to take out the opposing team's support.
Farm whenever possible with Living Shadow -> Shadow Slash -> Razor Shuriken -> Shadow Slash.
Throw your Living Shadow at a chasing champion, then swap with it to escape the chase. You will die otherwise because of slightly below avarage move speed. (pre- Phantom Dancer)
Death Mark -> Shadow Slash -> Razor Shuriken -> Shadow Slash -> ( Living Shadow -> Shadow Slash -> Razor Shuriken to continue dealing damage) or preferrably Flash to get away. Use this combo whenever possible.
Living Shadow -> Shadow Slash -> Razor Shuriken -> Shadow Slash.
If there is anything missing (i.e. champion type not mentioned in target priority in teamwork chapter or another sneaky trick you came up with) please leave a comment letting me know, and I will fix it.
This build is for top OR mid lane Zed, and CAN be used for solo top effectively.
Please enjoy the guide!
Greater Marks of Attack Damage: As with all assassins, Zed benefits from flat AD, especially with this build in the early game. This is because the first damage item is an Infinity Edge and it will take a while to work up the gold for. I take AD with marks because marks specialize in attacks.
Greater Seals of Armor: Zed benefits from flat armor in this build because the item build lacks armor items. Armor is an important aspect for defending your champion, and flat armor will help to get you those early kills without needing to trade your own life. I take armor with seals because seals specialize in physical defense.
Greater Glyphs of Scaling Magic Resist: Generally, magic resist per level is better than flat magic resist because caster champions deal more damage as their abilities level up. This means that magic resist is needed less early, and more later. Because "per-level" runes provide more of a bonus at level 18 than "flat" runes, I take magic resist per level runes. I take magic resist with glyphs because glyphs specialize in magic.
Greater Quintessences of Attack Damage: Because Zed is an assassin, he wants as much AD as possible. Therefore, quints of strength are my choice quints. I take AD with quints because they don't specialize in physical defense or magic, which are the other two bonuses required by this build.
For those newer players out there that aren't level 30, the reason you see numbers like 21-9 is because the final mastery in a tree requires 20 points, and it is the 21st. Once you have that mastery, you don't need your other 9 points of masteries in that tree, so you put them into one of the two other trees.
In the offense tree, I place 21 points. I take everything on the left half of the tree. This is because that half is where all the flat AD, armor pen, attack speed, crit damage, life steal, Summoner's Wrath , and Executioner are found. The right half contains buffs for AP or buffs against specific kinds of targets. (i.e. minions and turrets) This is not the kind of buff Zed needs, so I take everything in the left half instead.Please note that there is only one point in Brute Force !
In the defense tree, i place 9 points. I take perseverance (sorry for not BBC coding perseverance, but for right now attempting to do that displays the Garen passive and not the mastery :/) for the health regen, which is pretty much necessary for this build since Warmog's Armor change. I put 4 points into Durability because bonus health is good, and it unlocks Veteran's Scars , which is MORE bonus health. I put my remaining point into Hardiness because I personally prefer armor to magic resist. If you disagree, simply put the point into Resistance instead.
I take Flash and Ignite.
Flash is a useful escape or catching tool, with many versitile uses. Some may argue that Zed's w is effectively a flash, and so taking Flash is not necessary. I would argue back: two Flashes are WAY better than one.
Ignite is generally a good spell to take for killing off opponents. True damage does not count for the bonus of Death Mark. If you wish to jungle with this build (which is NOT recommended) take Smite instead of this.
This way of playing Zed is aimed at getting the damage, attack speed, and CDR required to sustain damage over the 3 active seconds of Death Mark. It also gives the movement speed required to get out of combat, in the event that Flash and Living Shadow cannot.
Boots of Speed +3 Health Potions
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
The Black Cleaver or Phantom Dancer
Blade of the Ruined King
There you have it. Those are my items, why I use them, and reasons to change them. Please comment in the discussions with any ideas :D.
Pros and Cons
I take a point in and max Razor Shuriken first because of it's long range poking power and AD scaling.
I take a point in and max Shadow Slash second because it has a short range, but the slow increases per level of the ability.
I take a point in and max Living Shadow third because the utility it offers allows it to be maxed last in favor of Zed's damaging abilities.
As with all ultimates, I take a point in Death Mark at levels 6,11 and 16. This is because these are the levels that ultimates can be leveled at, and they are calledULTIMATES for a reason.
Contempt for the Weak
Contempt for the Weak is Zed's passive.
When Zed strikes a target below 50% of their maximum health with a basic attack, he deals an extra 6/8/10% of their maximum health as magic damage. This does stack with crits, but only the basic attack procs crit chance, not the extra percent of max health damage.
Yes, you saw right. Contempt for the Weak DOES level up. It auto-levels at levels 1,7, and 17, making the bonus 6/8/10% respectively.
While this ability has no cooldown, it can only occur on the same target once every 10 seconds.
This ability fires out a razor shuriken, dealing 75/110/145/180/215 + 100% non-base AD (non-base AD is all AD gained through runes, masteries, or items) damage to the first enemy it passes through (including minions) and 60/88/116/144/172 + 80% non-base AD damage to all enemies after the first. Living Shadow will mimick this ability, throwing a second shuriken and dealing full damage to the first target it hits. however, it only deals 50% of the stated damage to other targets. If two Razor Shurikens strike the same target, energy is restored.
Always try to throw Razor Shurikens from an angle where it will hit your lane opponent(s) BEFORE enemy minions because the damage difference is very high. Throwing a Living Shadow in front of enemy minions can make this easier.
I recommend smart casting this ability. If you're practiced at smartcasting, landing Razor Shuriken should now be easier. If you're not, practice smartcasting in a bot game.
In order to set an ability to smart cast, go into the options menu. Do this in-game by hitting the escape key. Select "key bindings." The first thing should say "use 1st ability" or something similar. The key will be q. Click on that q. Now press and hold shift, and then press q. Let go of both keys. The key should now be shift+q. Now scroll down. There will be one called "smart cast 1st ability" or something like that. Select the empty space next to it (this used to say shift+q until we changed something else to that earlier), and press q. Now the key should be q. Now close the menu. Now whenever you press q, Razor Shuriken will automatically launch out in the direction of your mouse. It saves a click and is much faster. Enjoy :D.
Razor Shuriken costs 75/70/65/60/55 energy and has a 6 second cooldown.
Zed's AD is passively increased by 5/10/15/20/25%.
When activated, Zed throws his shadow forward, which remains in place for 4 seconds. This is a non-interceptable skill shot. Reactivating the ability while the shadow remains on the field will cause Zed and his shadow to swap positions, as long as Zed is within a certain range.
While the reactivation range of Living Shadow is not stated, I estimate it to be somewhere between 700 and 1000. In other words, at your pre-phantom dancer 395 or so movespeed, you can only move away from your shadow for about 1 1/2 seconds before going out of range.
Zed's shadow will mimick his basic abilities. 2 abilites striking the same target will restore some energy.
Energy is only regained once per mimicked ability, and damage is only dealt once per mimicked ability. Therefore, having 2 Living Shadows out at the same time gives no bonus, and Living Shadow should be saved for additional damage or escaping after using Death Mark.
I take a point in and max Living Shadow third because the utility it offers should be maxed last in favor of Zed's damaging abilities.
Living Shadow costs 40/35/30/25/20 energy and has a 22/20.5/19/17.5/16 second cooldown. Hitting 1 enemy with both Zed's ability and a mimicked ability of the same type will restore 20/25/30/35/40 energy.
Zed and his shadow create a burst of shadow, dealing 60/95/130/165/200 + 0.8 per non-base AD. (non-base AD is all AD gained through masteries, runes, or items)
Zed's slash reduces the remaining cooldown of living shadow by 1 second for each enemy he hits.
A shadow's slash slows enemies by 20/25/30/35/40% for 1.5 seconds.
Overlapping Shadow Slashes will deal no additional damage, but the slow is increased to 30/37.5/45/52.5/60%.
Shadow Slash costs 50 energy and has a 3 second cooldown.
Zed sinks into the shadows, becoming untargettable and dashing to target enemy champion. On arrival, he marks the target for death and spawns a living shadow behind the target. This shadow lasts 4 seconds and mimicks Zed's abilities, and reactivating Death Mark will cause Zed to switch locations with this shadow. ALL details involving this shadow and ability reactivation are exactly the same as those regarding the one spawned by Living Shadow.
After 3 seconds, the mark Zed placed on the champion will detonate, doing physical damage equal to 100% of Zed's attack damage + 20/35/50% of all damage dealt to the target by Zed and his shadows while the mark was active.
As with all ultimates, I take a point in Death Mark at levels 6,11 and 16.
The cooldown on this ability is 120/100/80 seconds, and this ability has no energy cost.
Now that you know exactly what all your skills do, you're probably asking: "What combo do i use to take down my opponents?" The answer is fairly simple. You have two different combos as Zed. The colors indicate how much trouble your opponent is in, green being a little and red being they are or nearly are dead.
First is your ultimate combo. This is the combo that you want to use ABSOLUTELY WHENEVER YOU CAN. If your ult is off cooldown and there is a champion in range, use this combo.
Your other combo is your ult-is-on-CD combo. This combo is more of a poking/high damage combo, and should NOT be the combo you prioritize to get kills. Try to keep away from the fight, letting your shadow do the damage for you unless flash is off CD. Flash is your escape tool in this combo. If Flash is on cooldown, let your shadow deal the damage FOR YOU, and you shouldn't need Flash. This combo can be used approximately every 14 or so seconds, and is designed purely as a damage poke. Do NOT get to greedy and try to kill with this combo. (unless it is extremely obvious that you can do this without taking ANY DAMAGE AT ALL)
Teamwork - What Does Zed Bring to Teamfights?
Zed's main goal in teamfight is disarmingly simple: pick out the support, and annihalate them. The way to do this is going to be using your ult combo. Stay with your team, and as soon as your team gets close enough, cast Death Mark to start the combo.
Another option is to run through the jungle to get behind the enemy team, and pull a surprise assassination on the support. Flash may save you here, but it is OK to die as long as you get the support. I would recommend this option, but it is by no means necessary.
IF YOU USE THE SECOND METHOD, WAIT FOR YOUR TEAM TO ATTACK BEFORE YOU CAST YOUR ULT! This will keep the enemy team from attacking you as you take out the support. You should need no more than 3 seconds.
If you escape, your main goal is to get back to your team and start using your ult-is-on-CD combo. Hitting enemy minions or champions with Zed's Shadow Slash will decrease the CD on living shadow and make the combo ready to use again sooner.
This is Zed's target priority. If the enemy team does not have a support, start on the first champion type they DO have.
Support -> AP Ranged (before AD because armor is more common than magic resist) -> AD Ranged -> Tank -> Assassin -> Fighter.
Taking out the support will make it harder for the enemy team to gain damage/attack speed boosts or regain health without using Heal. Taking out Ranged champions is your next priority because they are harder to hit for your team, but Zed has a very long range. Try to take them out from behind the team if you can, although this is not at all necessary. If the fight isn't over yet, take on the tank. The tank should be preventing your team from doing damage to the real threats by use of CC effects and skillshot nuke interception. Once the tank is dead, take out the enemy assassins or fighters, although if you have a good team they should have been the first to die.
A fight should NEVER last long enough for you to have time to take out more than 2 other champions once the support is dead.
Escaping Ganks With Living Shadow
- Extend the ranges of your other two basic abilites by about 1/2 of Razor Shuriken's range.
- Double your damage output.
- Be used as a sort of Flash.
- Be used to slow enemies by up to 60%.
- Dodge skillshots.
- Scare enemies away from you as they try to avoid your (hopefully) massive AD.
Making use of these uses is the way to escape ganks. So, what you want to do is as soon as you see the second opponent (the person that is ganking you) show up, throw your Living Shadow TOWARD them and THROUGH them, as far as it can go. Run away VERY LITTLE DISTANCE. Once you stop, wait for them to be in range of YOUR Shadow Slash. As soon as they are, reactivate Living Shadow, causing you to swap locations with your shadow. As fast as you can, Shadow Slash. Because you waited until they were in range of YOUR Shadow Slash before reactivating Living Shadow, this Shadow Slash will slow them, making them unable to catch up to you as you run away. You should have even less trouble running because of the distance you already put between you and the gank simply by reactivating Living Shadow. If they have very high movespeeds and you anticipate them catching up to you, Flash.
This method will have you escaping every gank and help keep your total deaths very low.
Dodging Combos and Other Sneaky Tricks Using Living Shadow and Death Mark
1. Say Veigar drops Event Horizon on Zed. Chances are, he's about to hit him with Dark Matter. He thinks he can't miss, because if Zed tries to pass through the perimeter of Event Horizon, he will get stunned. But suddenly, he misses. Dark Matter falls harmlessly to the ground, and Zed is already running away.
What just happened? Zed can't pass through the perimeter of Event Horizon without being stunned! But he has tricks up his sleeve, oh yes. The trick is simple. Throw Living Shadow through the perimeter of Event Horizon. Being an ability, the shadow does not get stunned. Reactivate Living Shadow to switch locations with your shadow. Because it's a swap, and not a dash, you are not stunned. Quickly run, and Flash if necessary.
Similarly, this tactic works on all containment abilities, but not CC.
2. Say you are facing a Brand. He lands Pillar of Flame or Conflagration. He attempts to shoot you with Sear in order to stun you, but he misses. He had a clear shot, and a close target. But he missed. Why? Because you, Zed, were untargettable.
After Brand lands his first spell on you, assume he is about to launch Sear. As fast as you can, cast Death Mark. This will cause Sear to miss, and then you should be able to pick up a kill on Brand with ease. Flash if necessary.
Similarly, this tactic works on all 1-2 skillshot stun combos.
Sneaky Tricks Using Living Shadow and Death Mark
1. Say you are being chased through the jungle by an off tank or spell caster. (i.e. Shyvana or Veigar) Your best bet for survival is to run through the jungle so that you end up behind baron nashor 's or the dragon's home. As you get there, send a Living Shadow into the home, and quickly reactivate. Because they have no way of knowing which way you sent your shadow, they will probably give up the chase and turn to leave. When they do, Flash BACK across the wall and then Death Mark. Use your ult combo to burst down the chaser, their reaction will be sluggish because of the surprise factor.
2. Another trick is to do your ult combo, but in a weird way. (In this situation, you are also being chased.) This time, turn around and use your ult-is-on-CD combo right away, even if your ult isn't really on CD. USE Ignite. As soon as they are at about 3/4 health, use Death Mark to start your ultimate combo. Make use of your Shadow Slash and Frozen Mallet slows to stick to your target with basic attacks, doing extra physical damage with auto attacks through Contempt for the Weak. You should be able to get 4-5 auto attacks off before Death Mark detonates, causing Death Mark to deal your AD + your AD times 2 or 2.5 + 50% of all the damage your Razor Shuriken and 2 Shadow Slashes did. That should be enough to take any champion down from full health.
The reason I use ignite before I start the ult combo is because true damage does not count for Death Mark's 50% damage bonus. Therefore, it is best used sooner to get your opponent down to 50% health so that Contempt for the Weak procs.
And there you have it! Two combo dodges and two sneaky tricks to kill your opponents.
Farming - How and When to Farm as Zed
Zed's basic abilities are very good at farming, but part of the trick is knowing when to farm.
As Zed, you want to farm whenever there are minions in your lane, and no champion. The exception to this is during a teamfight, because you want to be at the teamfight instead of farming. On your way back from teamfights, take the wraiths or wolves depending on which is on your way.
This build is fairly gold-heavy, so killing minions whenever possible is good.
Your basic combo for farming should look something like this:
While your lane opponent is in lane, farming can be more complicated. Use your ult and ult-is-on-CD combos on the enemy champion like you always should be. When your minions bring an enemy minion to the point where it can SLIGHTLY SURVIVE a Razor Shuriken, aim a razor shuriken at that minion. The slight cast delay of Razor Shuriken will cause the minion to die on hit. Try to put as many minions in the line of fire, as well as your lane opponent if possible. Feel free to use a Living Shadow for the mimick of Razor Shuriken so that you can hit as many minions and champions as possible.
The build is NOT aimed at farming until you have your Tiamat or Ravenous Hydra simply because until then it has no splash. However, farming will be stupidly easy once you have one of them.
I will add more people to the list as more people help out.
- Mohagnar, you're one of my best buds all around on video games, and your credit here goes out for creating the basic outline of the build order, and for your help in the initial revising stage of the guide. Edit: thanks for helping to create the new preseason 3 build as well!
- Jhoijhoi for your "making a guide" guide. It really helped me with all the BBC coding :D.
- Decmelom, your credit here goes out for a) providing constructive criticism and b) making an account so that you could upvote my guide merely hours after it was first published <3.
- TheCarnosaurus for suggesting Mercurial Scimitar and the tankier, but not recommended, build.
- All the people that provide help in the discussion will have their name listed here. PM me if you provided help and you didn't recieve credit.
Zed is a powerful AD assassin that utilizes Living Shadows to deal damage and move around the Fields of Justice. He has a high base AD, and should be played passive-aggressively. Zed's abilities have a deceptively long range by using Living Shadow to extend those ranges. Living Shadow should be saved until after Death Mark for escaping or finishing off your enemy, as Zed AND 2 living shadows will NOT deal extra damage.
All in all, Zed is fun, interesting, somewhat complicated, and ABSOLUTELY worth the 6300 IP.
Thank you for taking the time to read my guide.