Zed General Guide by MPHPLVL
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Not Updated For Current Season
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The item build
Note: You can always vary the way you build at first, if you like to get boots and 3 pots, buy that, if you like longsword and 2 pots, buy that etc., but I prefer getting the 5 pots plus 3 wards. I use 2 wards in the laning phase and 1 ward at the enemy red, just to let my jungler/top/bot know when and where the enemy jungler is at red.
I usually start with 5 pots and 3 wards, just to get the farm and levels I need in the beginning. My first-buys always depends on the situation, so if I am against a tough laning caster, I buy Null-Magic Mantle, Boots of Speed and Long Sword as the first items. And if I am versus a tough laning bruiser, I buy Cloth Armor instead of Null-Magic Mantle. The small amount of defense in the lane makes you more resistant to the harass you might take, while you farm until level 6.
When you reach level 6, or just have your ultimate upon the enemy, you have to use Bilgewater Cutlass Blade of the Ruined King to give more damage. I have also found Ravenous Hydra somewhat useful as Zed, because you can utilize the ultimate way more if you use it to gain that extra normal hit, but The Bloodthirster is also a very good item, and much more reliable if you cannot cope with the active of Ravenous Hydra.
Guardian Angel is a very helpful item, due to the fact that Zed is an assasin or a carry shutdown. If you just go all-in crazy mode on their ADC or APC, you can always have Guardian Angel to help you stall the enemy team, until your team arrives and to get away with Flash or Living Shadow.
ALWAYS BUY WARDS!!!! It helps you and the team. You can overextend, if you know the jungler is not anywhere near mid/top!
Note: Many Zed players like to focus Shadow Slash (E) first, then Living Shadow (W) or Razor Shuriken (Q), but I like to focus Razor Shuriken (Q) for the early damage plus easier farm, this works very well for me. So, if you like to farm safely, just focus Razor Shuriken (Q), then Living Shadow (W) for the lower cooldown plus the extra AD.
First of all!: read the set of skills, so that you know how your abilities work. It is very important with Living Shadow (W) and Death Mark (R)!!!
The key to play a very good Zed is to know his abilities, and know them well. This takes a lot of practice! What you have to learn the most is how Living Shadow (W) and Death Mark (R) is functioning. I prefer to NOT have smartcast on Living Shadow (W) nor Razor Shuriken (Q), because they are very important skills, and important skills needs extra precision, which smartcast does not help you to achieve, in my opinion at least.
So how does Living Shadow(W) and Death Mark(R) function? If you press W, the shadow is landing where you point. It has a reasonably short range, so be awere of that (I have been slain many times due to the smartcast W, and I measured badly with smartcast). If you press (R) the shadow is landing right behind your target after you have "channeled" it (when you are targetable again).
What are the shadows for? The shadows help you take down your foe much faster. If you have 2 shadows (from Death Mark (R) and Living Shadow (W)), you should be able to do a whole lot of damage, if you hit your Razor Shuriken (Q) both times and the Shadow Slash (E) should also slow your enemy, so you can hit your foe even more.
Your ultimate as Zed is important!!! Use this ability, and you are almost guarenteed a kill (if you damage your target enough that is). Use your Death Mark (R) to gapclose on your target (maybe Living Shadow (W) too, just before you use Death Mark (R)), and then press your active items on your foe (which is why Blade of the Ruined King is useful! Slow and extra damage), and then land your Razor Shuriken (Q) (hopefully both of them, from each shadow) and then slow the enemy even more with a Shadow Slash (E) and use your normal hits to make the last amount of damage on your foe (maybe Ignite too) to make your ultimate finish the job.
The shadows and the reactivation!
This is something only masters of Zed can brag about doing right (not me!). I know the theoretic part, as any other player does, but to master it demands focus and good memory to remember where your shadows are, if you have reactivated your shadow, and when it is a good time to withdraw from battle. I usually save my W when I know I have to escape right after an engage with Death Mark (R) on an enemy, so I can make sure the enemies will not follow. Remember if your shadow hits with Shadow Slash (E), it slows! Very efficient to get away from tight battles too.
All I can say considering the reactivation of the shadows is: try it out yourselves! Every Zed player has a way of his own to use the shadows, as well as any ability, so there is no definitive way of doing it, unless you fail every time, of course!
There are many different ways to make masteries, but it all depends on how you play, actually. As Zed, I think the cooldown reduction is a very good thing to have, as your W is your only escape (if you do not have Flash), which have quite a lot of cooldown. Attack speed is also good, as your ultimate damage is dependant on the damage you have made before it pops. So make sure to use the normals hits as much as you can, and just get as much damage on your opponent as possible, actually.
You will have to figure out a way to make this on your own, but you can always use my masteries as a start.
This is just my rune page, which can also vary, depending on the user. If you prefer more AD instead of AS, get that, if you like Armor Pen instead of AD or AS, get that. All I can say is, I think this works just great.
How to play?
I cannot tell you how you play the best Zed, but I can tell you this:
As any champion in League of Legends, you have to farm, play safely and cooperate. If you make good calls, get as much farm as you can take (as Zed mid, you can also take the Wraith camp and the Wolf camp) and just cooperate with your team.
Just buy wards so you know when the jungler is coming to your lane, get much farm (Zed is easy to farm with, once you have learned the Living Shadow (W) + Razor Shuriken (Q) + Shadow Slash (E) combo) and make safe kills. You are probably willing to towerdive, since you are playing Zed, but only do that, if you know you can escape. Your damage is massive, but your escape-abilities are limited. If you coordinate Death Mark (R) and Living Shadow (W), you can escape easily. All I can say to you is: play safe until you have learned how to coordinate Death Mark (R) and Living Shadow (W).
Another thing to be awere of as Zed, and probably any assasin is, you have only one target to burst. You do not have to make sure your target dies, you have to make sure your timing is perfect. A well-timed assasin can make a teamfight turn to the greater good of whoever has the assasin.
How to time it? I prefer to wait until the enemy team has used all their ultimates (or CC) and then I charge in for the APC/ADC or whoever is worth killing for the teamfight's greater good. Advanced tactics is: to make sure you cut-off the largest amount of damage on their team, and make sure you do not lose your carries either (you are hopefully a carry yourself, so do not go suicide-mode).
As Zed, I prefer playing safe. I like to farm, get safe and clean kills and push a lot (which happens by farming good). Play safe by warding your lane, maybe even jungle (which you have the possibility to do when you push). Always keep in mind what kind of opponent you are against. Does he have CC, and how long does affect me? How much damage is he able to do onto me? And if you have no wards, be aware of his playstyle, maybe there is a jungler roaming around your lane.
/hope you could get something out of this guide! It is my very first, so please give some constructive critique. - MPHPLVL