Zed Build Guide by minibeast909
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Hello fellow Zed players, for awhile now I have seen a general lack of recognition of the viability of my favorite Assassin, Zed, who has helped me gain an easy 2 to 1 K/D ratio in ranked over the past few weeks. Now before you down vote me because you disagree with an item or don't like me, just hear me out, feedback is much appreciated.
Zed is one of the most viable mid/top laners in the game, I do not care what anybody else says. He is a beast at poking the **** out of top laners like the infamous Darius or just demolishing feared mid-lane assassins like Katarina or Akali through his insane poking potential. Now if you have played Zed before and think he's too difficult, then I encourage you to try him again, Zed is an extremely rewarding character who has the ability to demolish the enemy carry within 3 seconds.
Zed should be played as a counter-pick towards anybody who can't take poke and has skill shots, which is why he is one of the most viable mid-laners in the game. Getting used to knowing when to use living shadow to laugh at a failed gank or to use it to shadow slash/razor shruiken/shadow slash the enemy laner takes practice, but using this skill to its' full potential makes one a very scary invincible assassin.
Now some people may be new to the idea of an assassin, so I'll give you a summary. An assassin is somebody who is 110% offensive and is meant to win team fights before they even start. If you get caught out of position and your team looses the team fight because it was a 4v5? Your fault. You don't realize the AD carry is becoming extremely well fed until its too late? Your fault. As an assassin you have more power than almost everybody else on the field, which is why every single match I loose I blame myself for the loss, even if another lane fed, or even if somebody DC'd on my team, it is always 110% YOUR FAULT.
This setup is built for an early-came advantage, one of Zed's stronger points. Scaling Magic Resist can be switched out for flat Magic Resist depending on the aggressiveness of the enemy's early game/their poke. If they have a weak early game, then use Scaling, if not, use Flat.
Scaling AD is dumb, it will probably cost you an early-game kill which will lead to you not having the BF sword when needed, which will cost you more kills, trust me, flat AD is the way to go.
Always run flat Armor because you will rush into the level 4 trade and come out with just 7 health and 700 gold to spend for a very rewarding early game kill. Without these you might be screaming MINIONS OP!!!!
Very straight-forward, standard AD Mid assassin masteries, forget using Lethality and Frenzy, you will probably never build crit-chance on Zed, usually you aren't auto-attacking enough to make an infinity edge viable, but feel free to do this for the lola. If facing a AD top laner then switch points from resistance to hardiness to increase your armor.
Some people might disagree with me on some of these but wait to disagree with me till the end.
The Brutalizer : Rush the Brutalizer, always, the armor penetration, the CD Reduction, and the flat AD makes it an awesome offensive item. The long-swords required to build this is the reason why buying Dorans' blades is STUPID, they are a waste of money and don't build anything!!!
Bloodthirster : Rush this after the Brutalizer, trust me the AD and the sustain will make everything worthwhile. This and the Brutalizer will absolutely melt mid carries. If you don't pay attention to actives such as the one on the Ravenous Hydra, then buy 2 of these, the extra AD will be better than the active you never use.
Mercury Treads : An absolute must, never buy anything else. Finish after the bloodthirster but buy the standard boots after your BF sword. Speed in S3 now worth less especially since Zed is so slippery, a quick living shadow and shadow slash will leave your ganker slowed and wondering where you went while you are laughing at a distance. The tenacity prove invaluable on this item, which is why it's the standard item on all AD assassins. Don't get caught in a CC lock from Blitzcrank, but then again you should've never have even gotten caught.
The Black Cleaver : This is another awesome item, gives some AD, armor pen, health, and CD reduction which are all awesome on Zed, this combined with the Last Whisper make your burst take chunks out of everybody on the enemy team.
The Last Whisper : Should be the third item you build and your last armor pen item, nothing really to say here, great AD and % armor pen will absolutely melt the enemy team.
The Ravenous Hydra : A somewhat new item, the main attraction to this item would be the Active which adds another 100% AD scaling skill in your toolset. Living Shadow, Shadow Slash, Razor Shruiken, Ravenous Hydra Active, Shadow Slash and your passive all combined will kill the carries within seconds without a doubt, if not then continue the chase with your ultimate, just be mindful of your energy bar.
The Frozen Mallet : Now for the most controversial item in my list, the Frozen Mallet. I only buy this as my last item in a game, which doesn't really happen often. Now AD assassins like Talon don't buy this, so why should Zed? The answer: Living Shadow Passive. A recent game I had allowed me to easily reach over 600 AD with the Baron Buff and full stacks on 2 Bloodthirsters and a Frozen Mallet, by the time you reach 600 AD, you would either be winning the game beyond belief, wondering why a game has lasted for 60 minutes, or be laughing at how fed you are. Never buy this item before any of your AD items, always save this for last! If you reach the end of your build, extra AD is unnecessary because you are already melting carries within 3 seconds making it stupid to add more. Trust me, if you finish your offensive items, you will not regret a frozen mallet. Your Armor and Magic Resist will be sufficient enough to shrug off enough damage with your HP to make you one very, scary, bruiser assassin. Think of it as a Talon with a full build plus a free seventh item as a warmogs. Now I realize that in my introduction I said an assassin is 110% offensive, well a Frozen Mallet is! Slowing the enemy carry makes skill shots easier to hit, such as Razor Shruiken, and also makes it easier to chase for the ace. The health? Will become the difference between surviving the CC lock long enough to use your ultimate on the carry and dish as much damage as possible before you die.
Contempt for the Weak
Deals percentage of bonus damage to targets below 50% health.
This passive makes Zed an extremely potent assassin, it helps build bad habits by making last-hitting as easy as ABC and it adds another 6%/8%/10% of the target's health to your burst kit. This combined with your ultimate makes Zed have one very scary burst.
Hurls a deadly shuriken in a chosen direction.
As much damage as this ability does, I often choose to max it second after Shadow Slash. Often enemy players are competent enough to dodge both of your Razor Shuriken and make your poke, fairly useless. Besides it is much easier to hit after a 60% slow from your ult/shadow slash combo which will make it worth your wait.
Casts a mimicking shadow, repeating all activated abilities in the duration.
This is one of the more unique abilities in the game, it allows you to do everything from harass the enemy laner until they drop, escaping certain death, and for hilarious dodges. The passive on this skill is what makes Frozen Mallet as a last item viable, and gives him his end-game prowess. A side note though, casting this and your ultimate, giving you 2 shadows does not allow you to hit 3 Shuriken and 3 shadow slashes, only two Shuriken and Shadow Slashes will affect the target at one time. But the 2 shadows will give you a greater AOE for your spells. Not very viable though, use these skills judiciously.
Creates a burst of shadow, damging all nearby enemies.
Although this ability deals less damage than the Razor Shuriken, I find this much more viable for in-lane trades against champions that are constantly breathing down your neck and who always want to trade, (Olaf or Xin Zao), this is still a very viable skill to max first because the harass of a Living Shadow/Shadow Slash x 2 combo will still be enough to make your opponent think twice about going for that next minion kill, just be careful that you don't push your lane too far, or else you will have a very angry jungler trying to send you back into the shadows.
Dashes to target enemy champion, dealing damage.
Death Mark is what makes Zed, Zed. I would suggest using this as a gap closer against an enemy, much like Akali's Shadow Dance, lead with your Living Shadow and combo, once you finish you will have enough energy and your cool-downs will be low enough for you to ultimate in, Shadow Slash, AA/Passive, then Razor Shuriken to kill the enemy. Only Lead with this ultimate if you are 100% confident you will kill the enemy, or if you're trying to shake some focus, dodge a spell, or trying to go Bonzai on the enemy carry. Remember, while you're dashing you're un-targetable, which makes this an awesome spell to last an extra second or two in a 1v2 fight in hopes of getting a 1 to 1 trade.
Flash: trust me, do not question it, just get it.
Ignite: awesome early-game spell for those early kills, exhaust will not really affect an AP carry, so if you are going mid, take this.
Exhaust: Only get if you plan on losing your lane or if you think bottom will loose, you never should think this so you should hardly ever take Exhaust.
ALL OTHER SPELLS ARE RUBBISH, DO NOT TAKE THEM ON AN AD ASSASSIN LIKE ZED!!!
Pros / Cons
Counters annoying assassins (Katarina)
Ultimate almost always secures the kill
Counters many top/mid laners.
Extreemely fun/rewarding to play
Strong early game
Never really falls off late-game
If shut down, can still kill minions under the tower very efficiently
Countered by HP Items (Duh!)
Taunts will kill you, be smart with your ult for this.
Squishy early game, although not as bad as Talon
Summary: Almost every Tanky AP mid or Tanky champ makes Zed not a viable choice, their HP in lane makes it extremely difficult for you to burst them down, and as the game goes on, being stuck at a 0/0/0 K/D/A ratio is not what an assassin wants! But for some more specifics, here are some common champions you should never face:
Cho'Gath: Basically you should kill yourself if you are dumb enough to lane against him, your only window to kill him is really pre-6 before his ultimate kicks in. Even then his silence/knock-up/slow will make it extremely dangerous to try to trade with him. Even then his passive shrugs off your pokes like yesterday's trash, jungler help would be highly recommended.
Swain: His ultimate sustain and his generic tankiness will make it almost impossible for you to kill him, please do not lane against him. Ever
Vladimir: His passive also allows him to become tanky and his sustain makes your pokes look stupid, you will not be able to kill this guy so please do not try to. His blood pool also makes it easy for him to burn your ultimate so you will loose this lane.
Singed: Your early-game squishiness + his health will make him win most trades/make your pokes look stupid. You can win though if your jungler helps you kill him, allowing you an early start against him. If you want to beat him in lane, it has to be extremely early, but once he starts stacking hp, you probably won't be able to kill him unless if you were rotfl stomping him before.
Rumble: His sustained damage and limitless poke just outshines yours, you will loose trades. No questions asked. His shield also mitigates your poke so believe me, you will loose against this guy.
Garen: Like I said, tanky thanks to his W and his silence will kill you since you're an AD Caster and rely on your abilities for damage. If facing him don't bother poking him, just use your QWE to farm minions and hope you have a competent jungler, if you get an early lead against him thanks to your jungler then you can possibly still win the lane.
I know these aren't all of the counters, but they are some of the most common ones seen in the game.
Now if you do find yourself being countered you have a few options to do to still ensure you are a useful Zed:
Look around, any lane hyper-pushed to your turret? Go and attempt to gank them to make sure your team succeeds.
You know that ward you put by the enemy Jungler's wraiths? Is he trying to go all rambo with 200 health and kill them before he backs? Get in, kill him, get out. Mid lane is in the best position to gank/counter jungle in the game, so use your position wisely.
Stuck top and you can't run to bottom in time to gank? This is one of the few times you would want to rush a Frozen Mallet, now I know what I said above, but think about it, if Jarvan IV is shoving his giant stick up your @$$ every time you try to get a minion kill, you need some beef to shrug it off. Either start building your Black Cleaver or your Frozen Mallet while you pick off the minions with your Q, or W/E combo. And who knows? Maybe with a little bit of patience you will find that your Jarvan IV has overstayed his welcome and you can Ult him!
Thank You for Reading my Guide on Zed, please before you consider down-voting my guide criticize me by leaving a comment, I'll be more than happy to help you guys succeed with my favorite assassin in the game!