Zed Build Guide by DamnZodiak
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.
A detailed itemization guide.
Example Fullbuild #1
Example Fullbuild #2
Not Updated For Current Season
Hello there! I'm Zodiak and this is my first guide here on Mobafire! I'm a midlane Main with a passion for assassins everywhere on the Rift! I have one account in Gold 2 (still rising) and the other at silver 3 wich I like better cause the name is cooler (weird huh?). So what can you get from this guide?
I've played Zed since I started with league and he has become my favorite champ over time.
So I thought about him every day I played league and how you could aproach building him in different ways. Since I'm only Gold 2 and by no means the mechanicly most advanced Zed player, I won't talk that much about Mechanics and Decision Making as Zed. I will instead talk about building him as detailed as I can and I hope you will learn something in the process. You can't teach someone mechanics. It's something you can help people with but in the end they have to practice for them selfs and learn how stuff works. I can however teach you most of the things I know about itemisation on Zed and give you details about building in general. So let's get Started! *hype*
Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage
Greater Mark of Lethality
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
Marks: You could replace the Armor Penetration Marks with Flat AD since it helps your farming. They changed the Minions in Season 5 so they get more health as the game goes on rather then more armor and MR. Also AD Marks are better if you don't have a lot of runepages as they're good for more Champions than Armor Pen. After all it's just a matter of what you prefer and what you can afford.
Seals: Even against AP Mids, Armor isn't that bad since it helps in those ranged matchups cause it blocks alot of AA damage. They're even some AP champs who do a lot of physical damage like Akali. But you can go for Flat/Scaling Health for those AP matchups if you like.
Glyphs: I personally like Scaling MR for some reason but you can go with Flat MR. As far as I know, Scaling MR outscales flat at lvl 7.
Going with CDR Glyphs is an extremly offensive setup and I honestly don't think it's worth giving up the MR because you gonna get CDR from the brutalizer and your masteries anyways.
If you do run CDR Blues, I would go for 6 flat CDR and 3 scaling or flat MR so you get 5% CDR from your runes. You can also go with a full scaling CDR page for 15% at level 18 like Faker does.
Quints: I don't think there is any viable alternative for Zed other than running 1 or 2 Lifesteal Quins along with AD. Even if you go for Armor Pen Marks you still need some AD to support that penetration.
As an Assassin, you obviously go 21 in offense but I will explain the exact choices for masteries here:
Offense Tree: I go for Sorcery rather than Fury because I don't run any CDR in my runes and the extra CDR helps a bit to put out more damage. Same goes for Double-Edged Sword .
From there I go the AD part from Brute Force down to Havoc while investing 3 points in Executioner since it goes really well with Zed's passive Contempt for the Weak.
You can change Spell Weaving and Blade Weaving for anything else in the Offense Tree you want but I personally like those two.
Kayle Bot made a really nice Video about why Warlord and Archmage aren't actually worth putting more than one point in. I highly recomend watching that Video and reconsider your Masterie choices in general.
Defense Tree: I go for Recovery rather than Enchanted Armor cause as an assassin you wont build enough resistances for it to be useful.
The rest is pretty self-explanatory, Block and Unyielding helps alot against early AA damage and will allow you to farm without getting chunked too hard. It also scales with the effect of Dorans Shield so it helps even more if you choose to go for this start.
Veteran Scars and Juggernaut gives you a nice amount of health for only 4 points. Nice to have after all.
Utility Tree: This Masterie-Tree has very little to offer for Zed. You don't use mana and you don't depend as heavily on Movement Speed like Ryze or Twisted Fate do for example.
The CDR on Summoner Spells and the enhanced recall is kinda nice but the Defense Tree gives you more useful things for the 9 points you can invest into it.
Since I want this guide to be mostly about itemisation on Zed, this is probably going to be the longest part. Explaining my twisted mind would probably end up kinda horrible so instead I will try to walk you through each stage of the game and what questions you should ask yourself while building Zed in each one of those stages in order to be successful.
In the beginning I would like to talk about itemisation on Zed in generall.
Most Itembuilds on skill reliant champions revolve around a core Item that helps the Champ to fulfill his role while fitting in with his kit and his scalings.
Examples for those type of Itembuilds are Akali and her Hextech Gunblade or Ryze and his Tear of the Goddess. Those Items almost seem to be designed for the according champ because they fit them so well.
If we look what Item would match those criteria for Zed we should take a look at Zed's Ultimate
Death Mark as he is a very Ult reliant Champion.
As we can see it says that the damage the Death Mark deals after detonation equals a percentage of "all magic and physical damage dealt to the target by Zed and his shadows while the mark was active." This INCLUDES damage dealt by the active of items like Blade of the Ruined King. So there we have it! A core Item for Zed that fits incredibly well with his kit and scalings. As an assassin, Zed's job is it to burst down single targets as quickly as possible and the active of this item helps us to do this as efficient as possible. It also slows the target giving us even more time to aply some damage.
Blade of the Ruined King also gives some AD and Attack Speed wich helps quite alot while splitpushing, also one of Zeds strengths as he is very slippery to catch and can outduel pretty much anyone with his ult. Sadly.. the active part of Blade of the Ruined King was nerfed a while ago (now it deals 10% of the targets max. health instead of 15) and so people have looked for other alternatives that would met the same criteria.
And what they found was the Ravenous Hydra. This Item also has a nice damage dealing active and the AoE passive give's us even more waveclear so we can splitpush without burning too much energy or using our Living Shadow wich makes splitpushing a bit safer. Although it gives no Attack Speed so it will take a little longer to take those towers.
The advantage this item has over the Blade of the Ruined King (even though the active is AoE instead of a targeted damage so we're not guaranteed to aply the damage) is that the active has WAY less cooldown (10 sec to be exact) so it will be up every time our ult is up and we can even use it when our Ult is down without having to bother that it will be on CD once we want to burst our target. It also gives more AD than the Blade of the Ruined King wich is always nice to have. But they're some reasons Hydra Zed hasn't made it into the Meta even tho it deals more damage and has way less cooldown. The reason is that Blade of the Ruined King is just way too good to give it up. The damage from the active is guaranteed so you're not going to miss it (even though they're some bugs involving not procing the active while using smartcast) and the slow helps you hit your double Q in a intense situation. Zed has so much waveclear that he doesn't really need the AEO passive and the attack speed from Botrk is just better since it helps you metling those towers. Another thing that people don't realise is that attack speed makes your AA's alot smoother and you're very likely to get 2 or even more autos of in one ult rotation. Ravenous Hydra also makes laning a little bit tougher since you can't freeze once you have that Tiamat. This forces you to buy a brutalizer/hexdrinker first and then roam once you get that Tiamat.. keep that in mind. The utility that blade offers is just umatched by the Hydra and this is why it will always be a niche Item on Zed.
So let's get startet with the actuall game.
So the obvious question is: "What do I start with on Zed?"
I personally find the Long Sword, 3 Pots start to be the best.
It works well in almost every matchup and integrates itself into every single viable first back option.
Every other start on Zed is very situational and isn't as open for different buildpaths as the longsword.
So the other options are:
Doran's Shield: Start with this if you're going to face someone who's constantly going to AA you when you walk up to CS. Helps a lot in those melee vs ranged matchups.
Cloth Armor, 5 Pots: Start with this if you're sure that you will buy Ninja Tabi at some point and you desperately need the early armor.
Boots of Speed, 4 Pots: Start with this if you're going to face a skillshot reliant champ like Xerath or Syndra. Helps a lot dodging those evil things.
So once you got through the early part of the lane your next question should be what to buy at your first back. You have quite some options here:
The Brutalizer: Builds from the longsword and gives you a massive damage boost for your early poke. The flat Armor Pen is really brutal (hehe) that early on in the game. Buy this if you plan to harras your opponent out of the lane or all-in him when he's low.
Bilgewater Cutlass: Also builds from the longswoard and is about as expensive as the brutalizer. Gives you lifesteal to sustain yourself in lane without wasting too much money on potions. The active is great for an early roam or all-in and you can actually 100 to 0 an enemy adc with a full combo (including ignite) if he's one or two levels below you.
Hexdrinker: It's like a defensive alternative to the Brutalizer. 25 AD but no CDR or Armor Pen. It helps you get some lane controll back if you get forced out of lane too hard by Syndra, Akali or whatever. Don't hesitate buying this if you feel you need some extra lane dominance because that's exactly what this thing gives you.
And as always: you should sneak in some wards and a pair of boots in between all of those buys. Seriously! Vision is Power!
On my second back I usually buy one of the two remaining first back Items (Brutalizer on my first back and then Cutlass for example)
From this point on everything you do has to be specificly tailored to the enemy comp, playstyle and general flow of the game.
Are they building no armor whatsoever? Build Youmuu's Ghostblade after you finished Blade of the Ruined King and then go boots into Last Whisper or change it the other way around if they build some armor. Everything changes as the game goes on and the only thing that is stable is what's generally viable on Zed and what's not.. and ofc you have to buy wards! ^^
So for the last part of this chapter I would like to go through the viable boots, last offense Items and the defensive choices you have. Let's start with boots:
Mercury's Treads This is what I usually go for. Good against magic damage and good against CC! Tenacity is just an awesome stat to have.
Ninja Tabi Good against full AD comps with little to no hard CC (or CC in the form of knockups wich can't be lowered). In general, tenacity is too good of a stat to give up in most games but you have to decide for yourelf.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity: This is the "no ****s given" option on Zed. I really don't like it. Without bluebuff the CDR does only help with your ult since everything else will make you energy starve. I wouldn't recomend it if you're not horrendously fed already.
It's nice to have but I see most other boots as a superior option
Boots of Mobility: Nice if you plan on roaming like a mad man. Since they're much slower in-combat than other boots I wouldn't build them too often.
After you finished your Blade of the Ruined King and Boots your option is to either finish your Youmuu's Ghostblade or to build a Last Whisper. It depends on the amount of Armor the enemy is building. If they stack a lot of armor, Last Whisper ist the way to go. If they're not stacking armor or you need the bonus movementspeed to catch up with their backline, Youmuu's Ghostblade is your best option.
Generally, I wouldn't build The Black Cleaver for several reasons.
Firstly, the passive of The Black Cleaver needs to stack up to be useful. You want your initial burst to be as damaging as possible. You don't want to stack up the passive first to do as much damage as possible. The flat armor pen from Youmuu's Ghostblade is more then enough since you're building Last Whisper anyways.
Also the movementspeed you get from the Active is way too god to give up. It helps in a chase, if you want to escape or just in order to get closer to their backline. The attackspeed you get from the active also helps a lot while split pushing or in a Duel where you can get more autos off before the Death Mark pops. The options are countless and you will learn how valuable the active really is after playing with it for a while.
So those are your 4th Item offensive options:
Infinity Edge: Gives you insane dueling power combined with the Ghostblade active (like Zed isn't an absurd duelist already). Also let's your damage skyrocket if you crit once in your ult combo. I wouldn't build it as your only crit item but it has a good synergy with Youmuu's Ghostblade and they're great together. Keep in mind though that the Infinity Edge crit got reduced a bit and it doesn't scale as well with Youmuu's Ghostblade anymore. It's still fine if you're really far ahead but generally speaking The Bloodthirster is probably the safer option here.
The Bloodthirster: I really like the 20% extra lifesteal on Zed (30% combined with Botrk) even tho Infinity Edge does way more damage. If you feel like you're the only one doing ANYTHING on your team and your damage is fine, this will help you stay alive longer and not go back as often.
I would go for a rather defensive Item as my last buy, even though you could go for Infinity Edge AND a The Bloodthirster. Some of those defensive options are really strong on Zed though and give you a bit of offensive power as well.
Mercurial Scimitar: I really prefer this as an defensive option over Maw of Malmortius and that's why I don't build Hexdrinker too often. The cleanse let's you make some insane plays and the magic resist is really nice for an Item that gives 80 AD already. My personal favorite.
Maw of Malmortius: Nice last Item against AP threats if you got an Hexdrinker early.
I still prefer the other options.
Guardian Angel: helps against AP and AD damage and the revive is really nice if you're the one carrying your team. Sell it once the passive is on cooldown.
Banshee's Veil Since the passive got nerfed (the shield needs 40+ seconds to refresh now) it's not as much of a nobrainer defense item for assassins and ADC's. Still better then the Spirit Visage on Zed but I prefer the other defensive options.
So it seems our journey has come to an end and I hope you've enjoyed it.
feel free to leave some critique or just ask some questions if you like.
I'm glad that you've sticked with me to the end and let's hope you've learned one thing or another.
GOOD LUCK ON THE SUMMONERS RIFT AND SPAM THAT ZED IN SOLOQ!!
Yours sincerely, the Damn Zodiak