Hello good people!
My name is Dreamy Fool and I'm currently a plat 2 player on the oce servers. I main support and I'm somewhat a savant in off meta champions.
I do not write this in the hope of swaying you to play Zilean as a main and I'm definitely not writing this to tell you Zilean is the best (even though he is sleeper op). I am writing this so you will hopefully think outside of the box next time you're in champion select and choose a champion that will spice up the game not just for you...but for everyone! Zilean is such a pick, and I whole heartily recommend choosing this champion if you enjoy both a challenge and a deviation from the norm. There are over 100 champions in this game, let's use them!
Pro's and Cons
Super Utility in 3 out of 4 of his abilities
Both Hard and Soft CC
A game changing ult
Good wave clear
He's an old man, so he is frail af
Skill shot reliant in lane phase
Can steal CS accidentally
Now I'm still new to this guide making system so I can't introduce fancy graphics and interactivity so you are going to have to put up with a block of text.
Lets start with his Glyphs and Quints. A support Zilean's most important stat is CD. It affords him the ability to act predominantly as a utility bot. His rank 5 Time warp slows his opponents by 99% and speeds up his allies by the same amount for 2.5 seconds. This is literally one of the best CC abilities in the game. Time warp has a static CD of 15, let's assume you have 45% CDR now with that amount your Time warp ability has a max static CD of 6.75s. Added to this you W (aka your rewind ability) reduces the CD of all basic abilities by 10. Meaning that on first cast your E has a CD of 0. Now I'm not trying re invent the wheel here, because we all know that Zil can double up on his slow/speed up and his bombs, but what I'm trying to communicate to you is how often you are able to lock down opponents and simultaneously speed up your allies. This is why CDR is so crucial to have as soon as possible. By having full CDR glyphs and one CDR Quint you start the game with 15 CRD if you include your masteries. With an added 30% you cap out your CDR and because your build will always include CDR this is certainly achievable.
Of course we also need to take into consideration his other CD's of his abilities. at lvl 3 his ult has a 27 second cool down, his bombs are on a 3.6 second cd and his W at rank 5 is on a 2.7s CD. I really hope these numbers put his utility into perspective. Mind you this all at rank 5. The numbers vary accordingly, be I've found that this allows for Zil to scale in a unique fashion. Rather than scaling by damage he scales by reduction.
I've also added two mana gen flat quints to experiment with his early game. (So far so good)
The yellow runes are simple to explain and I don't think need as much in-depth discussion. I chose 9x flat health runes as resistances come fairly easily and Zil is one of the supports that you want to avoid damage at all costs and for his red's you want flat armour. A lot of other players will suggest penetration runes to deal more damage however support zil isn't in it for the damage he's in it for the utility and for every 1 AP you get 2 in scaling for his ult and that is the only real reason you want AP(ish) items on a support zil.
Masteries are more straight forward than the runes. 0/18/12 are the safest set you could can use and it's my go to page. There are some variations out there but I think this is one of (if not the) best.
You want to invest in the utility tree for the intelligence mastery and the free 5% CDR that it offer at lvl 1. The second most important mastery is meditation. Zil has does have a mana issue in the first stages of the game this is easily rectified by a tear but before that point it can be difficult.
The beauty of investing in both utility and resolve is that you are able pick up all (asides from SRS) the movement masteries, which is important to zilean because while he might be frail my god is he fast.
the 0/18/12 gives zilean everything that he needs, health, resistances, CDR and passive gold gen. Nuff said.
Items. Now I'm not so narrow minded that I won't see the value in experimenting in builds. I've included two build types that I think both have merit and both have advantages over the other.
I've recently revised the build and its path. So far Preseason as allowed for Zilean to take on a more focussed support role and becoming someone what of a stun/cc bot. By starting with ancient coin you are able to fire of more spells earlier on thanks to your now improved mana regen from you items, runes and masteries. Once you have tear, your mana regen become amazing and you are able to spam you abilities whenever they are off cool down (I'll do the math in the next few days and update you on my reasoning). From here, Zekes is the perfect Item for Zil as it provides him with his most important stats, Ap and CDR with the added benefit of mana and amour. This item is great considering the the amount of abilities you will be spamming and the rate that you can activate its passive. With Zeke's, CDR boots and Eye of the oasis you are at you CRD capp. From here items like Righteous Glory and Locket work with with providing your team an amazing initiate (by propelling yourself and other team makes into the fray or slowing down the enemy) and providing passive and active benefits to your team (Zeke's and Locket proc).
With the added benefit of Zil's ult there are really nice synergies that allow for a diverse effect on the battle field.
(Will go More indepth soon)
I'll breeze through this.
Max bombs first. It gives you a 1.5 second aoe stun at lvl 5 and is really good at clearing waves despite the lack of AP you build.
Secondly I max Time warp. The utility that this brings to ganks, team fights and generally traversing the map is huge and it will always have a short CD thanks to your CDR cap and his W
Lastly I max his W rewind. While this is a great ability I find that having a 99% slow at lvl 13 that you can double up with a rank 1 rewind is more rewarding then having a 2.7 CD rewind that will allow you to double up on a 40% slow.
Rank your ult up whenever you can.
Q = early game harass, strong CC if you can land the stun and good wave clear.
W = Spam!!!
E = having both the lock down capabilities as well as allowing allied champions to kite where they would not have been able to. You have seen a naut kite? It's amazing. There are a whole host of advantages to having a 99% increase in your MS then the opposing team. Get in there and try it for yourself.
R = playing god. This ability will make you either loved or hated by everyone, because nobody wants to die and everyone thinks that they are most deserving. How you use this ability is a decision that you make in the moment. If you know that your carries will be stay safe during the course of a team fight then ult your front line, if you want that Katerina to jump into a 5 man team then ult them to ensure they don't die. like his E this ability brings so much to his play style and changes the dynamic of the game.
Zilean isn't a complicated champion. I'm not hear to teach you the hidden tricks and tips of this champion. Anyone can play Zilean and do alright but you need to have an understanding of the numbers if you want to consistently play well. Know that building high amounts of AP isn't always the best way to go. Understand what your team needs and how best to support them if you want to excel.
I hope that in some small way I have given you some ideas or some additional knowledge on a champion that is now considered left from centre. He may fluctuate within the games meta but he has a permanent place in my heart.
If you have any ideas, questions or flat out disagreements please let me know! I love theorising and debating these minuet details. Otherwise if you like this 'guide' give me a rating or a like or whatever.
Changes made to itemisation
Changes Made to runes
Changes made to playstyle
Further updates soon.