Zed Build Guide by PsychShade
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.
Mid & Solo Top
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.
Season 3 is on!
Recently, I haven't been able to play LoL or update the build, since I had troubles with a few subjects, and my parents weren't as comprehensive as I expected them to be. So, I'll update the build slowly, I have to practically redo the items section, and go deeper into the skill explanation, as well as adding some images, situational items, in-depth top laning explanation, and maybe jungling.
So many things to do, and so little time. I'm so sorry, but until I retake a few exams, I won't be able to pay as much attention to the build as I'd like to -_-
EDIT: I just made a complete facewash to itemization, because I lost myself and focused on building Zed as a full AD carry, totally missing other things like survivability, and even viability. Now this item build should be more balanced in a few more aspects. Hope this works for you as it has worked for me!
Hello everyone, and welcome to my Zed build!
I am PsychShade (EU) and this is my first build ever, so I'd highly appreciate any feedback and critics in order to improve it ^^ By the way, English is not my mother lang, and so this guide could contain some (or many) typo errors, grammar errors and various mistakes. If you find any of these, it'd be great if you told me, so I could improve my lang skills and improve the guide :) Also, if you downvote the guide, I'd like to know why, so I can understand and improve the next time, please trolls, abstain yourselves from free downvoting.
Now with the guide, Zed is a melee assassins champion, with a very versatile kit, and capable of dealing huge amounts of dmg in a very short time. I've seen lots of people build Zed as a tanky dps, but I sincerely prefer building him as a full AD assassin like Talon.
If you're here because you want to buy Zed and you've still got some doubts, I'll give you some advice. Zed is NOT a broken down champ. He'll not destroy the entire enemy team in seconds like Darius or Diana would do. Zed is a hard to play champion, and it requires knowledge about the game, a lot of practice and patience, and a cold mind in fast-thinking situations. Zed as a high skill-cap, and you can practically always learn new plays and jukes with him. If you're expecting to do awesome stuff without barely taking an effort, I don't recommend you buying Zed.
This guide is mostly orientated to mid lane, but top laning section is coming soon, and I will probably add later a jungling section. Well, less talking, and without a sound and delay, let's get on with the guide!
+Very versatile champ
+Uses energy instead of mana!
+Capable of dealing tons of dmg
+Nice ranged poke
+Crazy jukes with Living Shadow and Death Mark
+Good ganks with Living Shadow and Shadow Slash
+He's a badass ninja (Shredder!)
-Quite squishy (if not built tanky)
-A little weak early game
-Full combo drains your energy
-After using all of your spells you are very vulnerable
-Hard to master
-Kinda skillshot reliant
-He loses rock paper scissors against his own shadow
We will be running an offensive mastery setup, as we will be going mid, we want to deal as much damage as possible, plus some survivability and some other cool masteries.
Here are the explanations for some of our masteries
- Summoner's Wrath Gives 5 bonus AD while ignite is on cooldown.
- Fury A "meh" mastery for Zed. We don't be autoattacking that much, so just put 2 points in it, and invest the other 2 in Havoc
- Sorcery We want that 4% cooldown reduction for spamming our abilities, always having in mind our energy.
- Deadliness 12 AD at level 18, why not? Also, putting 4 points in this mastery will allow us getting the Weapon Expertise mastery.
- Resistance and Hardiness for some armor and magic resist, as we will be fighting mostly AP casters, but we could also have a meeting with Talon or someone else who uses AD.
- Veteran's Scars Zed is quite squishy, and as we're not building him tanky, this will be great for our survivability.
I don't want to overextend with runes, because they're pretty much the same for most AD champs, but most of times it's all about your preferences.
Greater Mark of Attack Damage
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
The runes are pretty much self-explanatory, but I will give you some advice on them anyway.
- Greater Mark of Attack Damage These will give us a nice amount of flat AD early game, and synergize very well with Zed, as all of his abilities scale AD. These will allow you easier farming and more powerful harassing early game.
- Greater Seal of Armor Although our opponents will be mostly AP casters, these runes will mitigate some of the damage damage we take from basic attacks and other AD abilities. Also, remember that Zed is an assassin, we will most likely be roaming other lanes when our lane opponent is missing, and so getting in early contact with AD opponents.
- Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist These give you nice MR in late game, as our opponent won't probably have humungous AP quantities in early game, so our base MR will be enough for those early levels.
- Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage These boost our early AD, these will give you 6.75 AD. Along with the flat AD marks, you'll start with 15~ more AD right at the start. Just great, isn't?
As an alternative for some of the runes up there, you can take a look at these:
- Greater Mark of Armor Penetration Zed has already an in-built AD boost. If you think that you don't need the AD runes or these suit him better, go ahead, these are also great for him.
- Greater Seal of Scaling Armor If you feel like you won't need the flat armor early game, you can go for these which scale better into mid-late game.
- Greater Seal of Energy Regeneration These runes restore your energy faster, allowing you to spam your abilities and combos without having to wait for the energy to be restored.
- Greater Glyph of Magic Resist I personally prefer MR scaling runes, but always, it's up to your choice.
- Greater Quintessence of Armor Penetration Same as ArmorPen marks, although I think these are more worth than the marks.
- Greater Quintessence of Energy Regeneration If you don't want to sacrifice your armor seals for the energy restoring ones, you might want to get these quints.
Summoner Spells are pretty much straightforward. Think, which spells would you get for an assassin? Exactly!
Flash is hands down the best summoner spell in the game. It provides you tons of utility, both offensively and defensively. It allows you to get out of sticky situations, catch up flying enemies and make even more spectacular jukes and escapes. It's true that Zed already has an in-built flash, but who knows when you'll need a second blink, or maybe you can get caught bad and your Living Shadow is on cooldown, or it isn't enough. You'll be getting this most of the times if not always.
Finish off enemies, cut health regeneration. Why not? It deals true damage, so it's a great way to finish off anyone who's fleeing, for example. What about champs like Vladimir or Swain? Ignite. I can tell you this spell is almost a must.
This spell is also great for more consistently chasing or escaping. You can get this is you think that 1 "flash" is enough. It also gets benefits from Summoner's Wrath , making it even more viable.
As of Season 3, this spell is also available in Summoner's Rift. As Zed is quite squishy, specially early game, you may find this handy. It may even give you the upper hand in 1v1 fights. Also, unlike Heal, this spell is ignite-proof.
This spell is nice together with your Shadow Slash's slow. You can get this spell if you feel like your natural CC is not enough. Also, it will totally shut their damage output, and synergises with Summoner's Wrath
You aren't the support (and if you are, you're doing something wrong). You should leave this spell for the support in your team.
If you know how to play LoL, you should know that this is the troll summoner spell par excellence. Aka don't get it if you don't want to get reported.
Urm, don't know how to say this. Maybe you didn't notice but Zed doesn't use mana. It doesn't even restore your energy.
Skill explanation and sequence
In this section we'll be talking about Zed's kit, its multiple usage, some tips for each ability and the leveling-up sequence.
TL;DR: If you don't give any *DERPS* at the skill explanation and tips, just go to the bottom of this section for a quick resume of the skill order.
Whenever Zed autoattacks an enemy below 50% health, he deals an additional 6 / 8 / 10% of their maximum health as magic damage. This effect cannot occur on the same target more than once every 10 seconds.
This passive is just great. It will make last-hitting minions easier, taking jungle creeps faster and will make your burst combo more powerful. You can also harass really well with this passive, just remember it has a 10 second cooldown before it applies again to the same target
Zed and his shadows throw their shurikens, each dealing physical damage to the first enemy they pass through and a lesser amount to enemies thereafter.
LIVING SHADOW: Additional shurikens striking the same enemy deal 50% damage and restore energy.
Our main harassing ability. It has a pretty long range, and if used with Living Shadow, you can just poke the hell out of them. Though, it has few cons. Its cooldown is longer than Shadow Slash's, and its energy cost it's just overwhelming early game. Also, first hit with the shuriken will deal more damage than hitting the second target, keep this in mind when harassing.
PASSIVE: Zed's bonus attack damage is increased by a percentage.
ACTIVE: Zed's shadow dashes forward, remaining in place for 4 seconds. Reactivating this ability will cause Zed to switch positions with this shadow.
Zed's shadow will mimic his basic abilities. If both strike the same target Zed regains some energy. Energy can only be restored once per mimicked ability.
This is the bread and the butter of Zed, the ability which makes Zed, well, Zed. Passively, it will increase your AD up to 25% in level 5, just wow. It will also let you place a shadow clone, which will mimic ALL of your abilities (except your ult ofc), no matter how much you spam them. Also, mimicked abilities restore energy and have special effects: secondary Razor Shurikens deal 50% damage, and Shadow Slash slows enemies on-hit. With this ability you will be able to make crazy jukes, catch fleeing enemies, escape from annoying or even deadly situations, gank like a monster, poke like a boss, and so on. Its energy cost is pretty cheap, but its cooldown is pretty long, so use it wisely.
Zed and his shadows create a burst of shadow, dealing physical damage to nearby enemies.
Zed's slash reduces the cooldown of Living Shadow by 1 second for each enemy struck. His shadows' slashes slow enemies for 1.5 seconds.
LIVING SHADOW: Overlapping Shadow Slashes striking the same enemy deal no additional damage but will incur an increased slow and restore energy.
This is the most spammable skill you have. Also, when you (not your shadow) hit any enemy (minions and neutral monsters included), Living Shadow's cooldown gets reduced by 1 for each enemy hit. Its base damage is lower than Razor Shuriken's when hitting first enemy. 2nd hit's damage will deal less damage than Shadow Slash. We will debate later which skill level-up first, as this is a bit controversial as of now.
Zed becomes untargetable and dashes to target enemy champion. Upon arrival, he marks the target for death and spawns a living shadow behind the target. This shadow lasts 4 seconds and mimics Zed's abilities. Reactivating Death Mark will cause Zed to switch positions with this shadow.
After 3 seconds, the mark will detonate, dealing physical damage equal to 100% of Zed's attack damage plus a percentage of all magic and physical damage dealt to the target by Zed and his shadows while the mark was active.
2 words. Murder machine. Insta-dash to an enemy, place a shadow behind them (acts the same as Living Shadow, you can switch with it also), SPAM, SPAM, SPAM your abilities, deal as much damage as you can until the mark explodes. G'bye enemy. It scales 1:1 with your AD, so be sure to farm up your The Bloodthirster(s) before going to kill anyone. You can also spawn your Living Shadow in order to deal even more damage, but consider saving it or even placing it before if you know you are running any risks when jumping at your enemy.
Skill order is pretty simple, but once again, here we go with the explanation.
We'll max Razor Shuriken first because it will be our main harass and damaging tool, and it will do nice dmg when directly landed on enemy champion (without hitting minions). Second, we max Living Shadow, as it gives us an amazing 25% AD boost at level 5, and it will provide great utility and huge damage if we land both normal and mimicked skill on a champion. We max Shadow Slash last, putting a point in level 4, because the main usage we'll give it is slow enemy champs with the shadow clone. Always put a point in Death Mark when it's available, for obvious reasons.
About maxing Razor Shuriken or Shadow Slash first
Well, as I said in the skill description, this is a kinda controversial point, because both skill have benefits and disadvantages, and it can be confusing when choosing which one to max first. We'll be talking about the advantages and disadvantages of maxing each skill first.
If you choose to max Razor Shuriken first, you will have a nice ranged poke to play with. Its cooldown is static, so leveling it up first won't benefit you in cd terms ( Shadow Slash's cooldown is also static, so we're not worrying about cooldowns). Its energy cost in early levels is just excessive, but when maxed out, its energy cost will be just 5 more than Shadow Slash's cost. It will also benefit its damage output, but this is severely decreased if you don't hit your target first (for example if your shuriken collides first with a minion, it will deal less base damage and 80% of your AD instead of 100%. But if you manage to hit both your shadow's and your shuriken, enemy will receive an additional 50% (at rank 5) of the damage dealt. Imagine if you hit with Living Shadow's and Death Mark's shuriken. Tons of dmg. Also, it is a skillshot, so you may have higher difficulty to land it.
It has a range a bit longer than your melee range, so it's kinda risky to land it by yourself. Its cooldown is static as stated before, but its energy cost is also static, so you won't benefit in this aspect if you max it first. However, its energy cost is MUCH lower than Razor Shuriken's, even at rank 5, so it's much affordable to use this ability. Also, it has a ridiculous cooldown of 3 seconds, which makes it totally spammable. Living Shadow's cooldown reduction from this ability won't increase, and the slow time won't be higher, but the slow will go up to 40% at rank 5, 60% when hit by 2 shadows. However, you won't get additional damage when hitting with multiple shadows. Notice this ability is easier to land as it's AoE, but it is also risky because you need to get in melee range to land it, or throw your Living Shadow and then land it, but it would be even more expensive than throwing a Razor Shuriken in rank 1, and [[Living Shadow]'s cooldown is high, remember.
Still confused? We'll make this more simple. It truly depends on you. Both their cooldowns are static, but Razor Shuriken's energy cost and cooldown are higher than Shadow Slash's one. Damage output is much higher in Razor Shuriken if well landed, but Shadow Slash is much easier to hit with, also its slow becomes stronger. When maxing these skills first, you must think about your matchup in the lane. If you want to play more aggressively and risky, max Shadow Slash first (if you know that you won't be in serious troubles when getting in melee range). If you prefer playing safe because you'll be having a harder lane matchup, max up Razor Shuriken first and farm/poke from a safe range. If you're having a great laning and you'll be roaming more often, max Living Shadow first for easier ganks. If you're having a bad game in general and you're falling behind, max up Razor Shuriken first, avoid getting in painful melee fights and try to farm as much as possible to get back in the game.
As of now, I will leave skill order as it is, because it is very situational as I said, but if I see in further games that maxing Shadow Slash first will benefit you much more than Razor Shuriken, I'll update all this skilling part.
I decided to put this section because Zed is a champion that really gets benefited from smartcasting.
So, you may be asking what smartcasting is. In case you don't know, smartcasting is a configuration that makes your spells be casted directly where your cursor is hovering, without clicking! For example, hover your cursor over an enemy champion, press Q and watch delightfully how smartcasting works.
Smartcasting allows you using your skills REALLY fast, you don't have to lose that time clicking for the ability to be casted. However, it takes a time to get used to, so you should try smartcasting in a game with some buddies or a bots/custom game.
I highly encourage you trying, you never know how many kills you can get before enemy champ even reacts.
These items are a must. Starting with a Doran's blade would leave you exposed to harass due to lack of movement speed, and you wouldn't be able to heal the harass, so you'd have to recall, letting the enemy free farm and damage your turret.
Boots provide you the mobility you need for avoiding skillshots from enemy AP casters (if they have) and allow you to position yourself in order to land your Razor Shuriken or Living Shadow. Also they could save your life if you get ganked early without your Living Shadow to get out of there.
Try to stay in lane as long as possible, farm with your fantastic passive, and if the enemy caster won't let you farm because of his pokes, last hit with your Razor Shuriken, harass with Living Shadow and wait until he goes oom.
When he recalls, you can either push the lane and recall too, or roam for a while and try to get some kills.
If your choice is to recall, you should try to get enough money for 1 or 2 Doran's blade or for the brutalizer.
These are your core items. A well farmed The Bloodthirster and a The Black Cleaver will raise your damage output BRUTALLY. Keep in mind that after getting The Bloodthirster you must farm in order to get the most out of it, capping its bonus AD at 30, along with the lifesteal. Be careful, because if you die, you'll lose half of the stacks, and nobody wants that. The Black Cleaver gives you even more ArmorPen, and a stacking armor reduction bonus that caps at 25% armor reduction. This doesn't only affect your AAs, but also all of your skills. You will practically destroy their armor with this.
Last Whisper: The armor penetration item par excellence. 35% armor reduction with an icing of 40 AD on top. I find myself getting this item practically always, but you should get it specially if anyone of the enemy team is stacking armor heavily.
Trinity Force: This is a really good item on Zed. He benefits of most of his stats, except for the mana and AP (but these are inherit to Sheen). Movement speed, some health, a possible slow proc on AAs, and the oh-so great Sheen proc. It boosts your next AA with the 150% of your AD, which can be truly devastating with your passive. The only cons I'd give to this item is the humungous amount of gold it costs. If you decide to build it early, it WILL slow your build, so be careful.
Ravenous Hydra: This item can be really helpful, as it provides you with tons of lifesteal, your attacks deal AoE damage, and with its active, you can deal up to 100% of your AD to enemies surrounding you. As Zed already does tons of AoE dmg, this item works wonders on him, and all of the damage you do with this item benefits from lifesteal, so bonus points for survivability.
- Blade of the Ruined King: Another nice lifesteal item for Zed. However, this item isn't only a lifesteal item. This item is a tank buster. Your attacks deal 4% of your enemy's current health, and heals you the same amount. Also, with his active, you deal 150 AD plus 50% of your AD to target champion, and heals you that same amount. It can really save your life more than once. However, I recommend getting this only if enemy team has a few tanky champs or something like an overfed Cho'Gath or a Dr. Mundo stacking Warmog's Armors, and don't get this if you already got Ravenous Hydra
Guardian Angel: This is IMHO the best defensive item you can get with Zed, and you should get it pretty much always. Not only it gives you Armor and MR, but the best this item has, it's that if you die, it revives you with a chunk of HP, allowing you to rise back from the dead and take vengeance on those fools who pitied the shadow path. That, or use your Living Shadow and run the hell out of you. However, be careful with this, at it has a cd of 5 minutes, wow, and depending on the situation, you can escape after reviving, or watch how your opponents annihilate you as you revive.
Maw of Malmortius: This item is undoubtedly the best MR item for Zed. If you're having troubles early against any AP champ, get Hexdrinker early and upgrade it later in the game. It also provides you with some AD, and even more AD the less HP you have (be careful with this ofc). Also, when you're low HP due to magic dmg, it pops a shield that absorbs some magic dmg, which can save your *** against heavy nukers like Annie or Veigar.
Mercurial Scimitar: Heavy CC enemy team? Get this. Early on, get a Quicksilver Sash, and upgrade it later, as it provides you with some AD and MR too. Also, as you're melee, you also get some movespeed for 1 sec, allowing you to escape after using it. You should rush the Quicksilver Sash if you're laning against heavy CC champs like Lux or Morgana.
Frozen Mallet: A nice item overall. It gives you a chunk of health to boost your survivability, a little amount of AD and a slow proc. on your AAs, useful for avoiding people escaping. Mostly get this if you need the HP, if you feel that you're way too squishy and need it.
- Zephyr: A decent choice for a defensive item, not the best, but decent. If you get this, don't get Mercury's Treads, as this will provide you with the tenacity bonus. On top of that, some AD, cdr and movespeed, which benefit Zed a lot.
If you have a jungler, help him with the pull. Leash with a Razor Shuriken and go back to mid lane.
When farming, don't just randomly hit the creeps. You MUST last hit in order not to overpush the lane so your jungler will have better ganks. Wait until minions have a bit less than half life, and hit them. Your amazing passive will destroy creeps for you, making last-hitting easier. As a cons, you are a melee champ, and most enemy casters WILL harass you. Poke them with your Razor Shuriken when you think you will hit them, and with your full combo when you have it (and if you have enough energy ofc). If you're taking too much harass, use your potions and fall back, stay near tower, last hit with Q. If the enemy is completely overpushed, call for an immediate gank and get your early advantage.
When you hit lvl 6, keep harassing your opponent until you think you can kill him. Jump in with your ult, use your Shadow Slash to slow them, Razor Shuriken and then autoattack him and ignite (if needed). If you think you will need to escape immediately after trying, put a Living Shadow before jumping with your ult.
If you killed him, good job. If not, he will have probably a little chunk of HP. DON'T BE GREEDY, you could just worthlessly die and lose your beloved advantage. Instead, keep farming, roam other lanes or recall if you feel like so.
If you succeed in your lane, keep roaming, help lanes with troubles or just go get some free kills. If you already have The Bloodthirster, farm it to the 40 AD cap. Buy wards, map awareness wins the game. Little teamfights may begin to show up. As you're an assassin, you must target their AD/AP carry or the target with lowest life, and insta-destroy them, then get out if things aren't going as well, or finish them if you can. Keep farming and completing your expensive build. If you can manage to get a blue buff, get it. Your energy will thank you. Push whenever possible, or even split push and get away like the ninja you are.
If game hasn't finished yet, this is the most teamwork-reliant part of the game. Teamfights will be popping out like Teemo's shrooms, and you must ALWAYS be with your team. If a teamfight appears and your team is 4 v 5, things will turn to be BAD. Keep putting wards everywhere. If you find an enemy all alone (make sure he isn't near his team), punish him for being alone and murder him. Take advantage of these 4v5/3v5 situations and keep pushing, destroy inhibitors and win the game. Your role in teamfights keeps the same, destroy their carry(s).
This section is just a short explanation about my jungling experiences as Zed. It will become larger and more detailed soon, but as of now, this should do.
ATM, I'm still writing this section, so just take a look at the cheat sheet and notes for a little info, I'll be writing all this stuff in the upcoming days. Sorry for the wait!
As a conclusion, I'd say Zed is a really fun champ, with a very versatile kit and a humungous damage output, capable of doing wonderful jukes, insta-kills and lots of cool stuff. I hope you enjoyed reading the guide as much as I did making it ^^
Don't forget rating, commenting and giving me constructive critics/feedback, so I can improve the guide.
Thanks a lot everyone, hope the shadows are with you in the Fields of Justice!
Credits and thanks:
-To jhoijhoi, for her awesome guide, which helped me a lot when making this build. Also, for the review to my build and the red bar, I hope someday I can replace for any self-made :P
-To my brother, who gave me some great ideas for the build
-To everyone who upvoted the build and gave feedback!
To Add List
-In depth skill explanation
-Generally improve build's look
-Colorful words :P
18/11/12 - Build published!
19/11/12 - Minor typo fixes and fixed a bug where build wouldn't show up properly, sorry! :<
20/11/12 - Detailed skill explanation added, and added Razor Shuriken vs. Shadow Slash section.
05/12/12 - Season 3 is out! Changed mastery page and item build.
06/12/12 - Updated masteries, summoner spells and itemization section, in order to adapt them to new S3 changes.
31/1/11 - Jungling section added! Atm only cheat sheet available.