Zyra Build Guide by rumtag

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League of Legends Build Guide Author rumtag

Zyra: Return of the Thorns (Season 3 Ranked AP Mid)

rumtag Last updated on December 11, 2012
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 3


Utility: 6

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Welcome. This guide to Zyra, Rise of the Thorns, is intended to show you how I play one of the best current AP mid champions in League of Legends. When done right and without trolls/feeders on my team, I'll be carrying a game with kills in the double digits and deaths in the low single digits. And with ease, I might add.

You've seen the items, runes, masteries, and skills above, so let's take a look at them below after we briefly discuss Zyra and her role on a team.

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Pros / Cons


+ Strong poke
+ Great burst
+ Difficult to counter
+ Seeds can act as wards
+ Crowd control/Zone control


- Low mobility
- Vulnerable to CC
- Weak against poke
- Plants give extra gold
- Passive can be hard to land

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Summoner Spells


Flash is the most ubiquitous escape/gap closing spell in the game and Zyra is no exception from champions that need it.


Taking Ignite on a champion means having one extra aggressive option up your sleeve. On burst champions, taking it can be the difference between securing a kill and letting your opponent escape with the smallest sliver of health. Also, this is a definite choice against lifesteal or quickly regenerating champions like Dr. Mundo, Master Yi, Vladimir, Renekton, Ahri, Fiddlesticks, etc., etc.
Sometimes, you might consider taking another spell in lieu of Ignite.

Alternatives for Ignite

Barrier is a new spell to Summoner's Rift in Season 3. If you think you won't need Ignite to get kills, and you want to ensure that you survive ganks and last longer in lane, this is a good spell to take. Exhaust doesn't see much play in mid lane. Zyra makes decent use of the skill especially level 6 and beyond. It keeps enemies in range of her plants and Stranglethorns, spelling lots of easy CC and hurt. Clarity is a decent choice for players that are either weak mana managers, or have spam/poke-heavy teammates and you want to keep that poke alive and then refresh the team for a resulting fight.


Other options might seem viable, such as Cleanse against a CC-heavy team, Ghost for extra mobility, or Heal for more survivability. Truth be told, none of these are necessary provided you are playing your role appropriately. Play smart, play safe, and you'll be able to use the much more beneficial recommended spells to better effect!

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Greater Mark of Magic Penetration

Greater Seal of Scaling Health

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power

Ability Power is the name of the game here. Health gives some extra sustain for longer skirmishes, and scaling AP makes sure you're able to catch up in case you might be falling behind.

Alternative Runes

So you don't like those runes. Okay. Here are some others that can be used to round out our build while still keeping Zyra in the same role with the same playstyle recommended here.

You should not replace the Marks. Other AP marks are miserable.

The options that you have to replace scaling health include Greater Seal of Scaling Armor to deal with physical attacks, Greater Seal of Mana Regeneration if you somehow need more mana after all the regen already available to you, or Greater Seal of Cooldown Reduction to help your passive CD reduction get closer to the 40% max.

Other viable glyphs are good but don't provide good AP scaling. Try Greater Glyph of Magic Resist for countering harass from someone like Cassiopeia or flat Greater Glyph of Ability Power for early-game burst. No other options really outweigh any of these.

If flat ability power doesn't satisfy you, or you would rather wait out early game trades and harass, Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed can help. Even with Sorcerer's Shoes, Zyra's movespeed doesn't go over 400. You can also opt for Greater Quintessence of Magic Penetration or Greater Quintessence of Cooldown Reduction, though the benefits are less palpable.

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Many of these are obvious choices, but some might be controversial. Let's talk about those.


Sorcery receives only point because Zyra has an innate cooldown reduction with Rampant Growth at level 1 that is equal to Sorcery at 4 points. Taking only 1 here rounds that up to 5% and also gives us 2 more points to beef up Havoc .

We take 2 points in Butcher to make farm as easy as possible at early levels. If you prefer more cooldown reduction and feel comfortable farming, put those points into Sorcery for shorter cooldowns.


This mastery is one of the amazing new masteries in Season 3, and I really hope it stays around. This item gives such great health regen to any champion that takes it. If you're getting poked at in lane, the more damage you take, the higher your regen. Play it safe, and you're back in no time.

Also, if you happen to be low after a fight that you won, you may not necessarily need to return with 40% health-- Perseverance will have you healthy again very soon!

This item also shares the name with Garen's passive, so I don't know how to differentiate between them yet. Oh well.


In the Utility tree, the focus is on regeneration and cooldowns. Taking mana regen with Meditation and also starting with a new-and-improved Doran's Ring will ensure that you spam and don't run out of mana. Cool.

Getting a couple of points in Mastermind is a great idea. Having Flash and Ignite on 7% shorter cooldown is nothing to scoff at, considering they both suffer higher base cooldowns in the new season.

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deadly bloom

  • ....... Rise of the Thorns, Zyra's passive, is basically a tool to help you secure a kill on an opponent that might have barely survived a fight with you. Likewise, you can do a good chunk of true damage on multiple enemies, should you be focused to death in a teamfight
  • Q - Deadly Bloom is the main damage ability for this Zyra build. It can raise a Thorn Spitter to do ranged magic damage to a single opponent.
  • W - Rampant Growth creates seeds. The seeds are planted wherever the cursor is when the W key is pressed. If deadly bloom or Grasping Roots hits a seed, that seed will turn into a Thorn Spitter or a Vine Lasher, respectively. Seeds also give vision of a small area, and reveal units that step on them for a brief time.
  • E - Grasping Roots is a skillshot that can snare all enemies that are hit. If it hits a seed, the seed becomes a Vine Lasher, which deals damage and applies a nice slow to enemies.
  • R - Stranglethorns, Zyra's ultimate, has a unique mechanic. Damage is applied when an enemy is hit by the thorns that spread outward from the center. It is possible that they are in the range when you cast it, but then walk out before the thorns touch them. After a short delay, the vines pop enemies in the range into the air. Plants in the area of the ult get an attack speed buff.
PLANT NOTES: Zyra's Thorn Spitters and Vine Lashers will always prioritize champions. If there are none nearby, then they prioritize Zyra's autoattack targets.

Plants proc spellvamp and Rylai's Crystal Scepter slows with diminished effects.

Raising a plant over an enemy Teemo's Noxious Trap will detonate it.

Seeds can be teleported to, or Lee Sin can Safeguard them.

Combo Order

>> >> deadly bloom >> >>
  • Open with the CC. Grasping Roots should lead. If you know you're going to hit or get the skillshot near your opponent...
  • Drop a Rampant Growth seed in the line of the skillshot. If the opponent is hit and slowed...
  • Hit them with deadly bloom. Lead your opponent slightly. If you can see that it's going to land...
  • Drop another Rampant Growth seed in the AoE. Now, you should have 2 plants. If your opponent is still alive and in range...
  • Stranglethorns the opponent, and hopefully the two plants you've raised.
  • Ignite if needed.

This should also hold true for teamfights. Just make sure you stay in the back and try to hit as many people with all of your skills as possible. All AoE = All OP.

This video below actually showcases this skill combo order perfectly. Note that these clips come from a variety of games including tournaments, solo queue, and arranged team matches.
Huge thanks to Unholy Wish for compiling all of these clips!

Again, the important thing to note is the skill combo almost always begins with that Grasping Roots for CC.

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Skill Sequence

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
  • First, Grasping Roots is a great harass and will help you invade or slow/halt an invasion in the jungle. In lane, it's a decent trade tool. Leveling skill increases CC duration as well as spell and Vine Lasher damage, but has lower damage than deadly bloom. We max this skill second, by level 15. Starting with this skill might seem very odd, but level 1 doesn't last very long anyway. You'll be glad you took it.
  • Get Rampant Growth second to raise a Vine Lasher to apply a slow, do extra damage, and let you get some auto attacks on the enemy. We max this skill last, but get points in it sporadically because this skill helps Zyra to scale--and hard. Shredding cooldowns for already relatively short skills improves her presence and sustained damage. You don't even need items for it!
  • The slow from the Vine Lasher is a perfect setup for deadly bloom and potentially a Thorn Spitter. The damage from this is really great, and the damage from the Thorn Spitters is no joke, either. Max it first by level 9.
  • As always, max the ultimate, Stranglethorns whenever possible.

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Starting Items

As I've already mentioned before, starting with Boots of Speed and Health Potions isn't the ONLY way to build an AP mid anymore. Thanks to the new masteries and the +25 base movespeed at level 1 to all champions, players should be able to dodge skills much more easily. Also, we don't have to dump points into the Defense mastery tree just to stay alive. Also, increased mana regen AND a nice mana refresh for every last hit means more spamming!

Core Items

Sorcerer's Shoes are obvious choices here. If you feel more comfortable rushing these before you start your Deathcap, go for it. I usually do this, myself.

Rabadon's Deathcap is also very obvious a choice. The new item gives you essentially 150 to 200-ish AP, depending on however much you have before you finish it. Makes burst more bursty. Obvious, obvious.

Zhonya's Hourglass is an amazing item on Zyra because she is one of the only AP carry champions in the game who can use the active and still deal damage, thanks to her plants. I find I need this item earlier when I am carrying. When the enemy has broken through my team to me, I pop it, let their focus scatter, then come back with Stranglethorns and win the fight.

Liandry's Torment is core because Zyra's poke is extremely good, and this makes it even stronger. Given that her Grasping Roots hinders movement, you'll be taking 10% of the enemy's current health for every poke you land. Not too shabby!

Situational Items

Rylai's Crystal Scepter is a nice item to increase your tankiness and give you some added utility. Be aware that it is a bit expensive, still. Go for Giant's Belt first if you need this item at all--health is your primary reason to obtain it.

Void Staff makes your burst burstier. Build it when your enemy (especially high-priority target) is wise and begins to build magic resistance.

Abyssal Scepter is still fantastic, and an item that I do typically build. It helps reduce the spell damage you take, as well as increase your spell damage, your plant damage, and any other magic damage coming from your team. It also encourages a tankier Zyra to get right into the fight and go crazy.

Guardian Angel is an item I rarely if ever get, but still one that has its place. Mostly if your enemy is getting GA, or if Zhonya's Hourglass isn't enough.

A word on enchantments

Enchantments are new to Season 3, and provide upgrades to your Tier 2 boots. Choosing which one you want to get can be a challenge, and I have found that largely I get them based entirely on the situation.

Enchantment: Alacrity helps me get a small boost in movement speed, especially helpful when I don't have Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed or someone on my team to give me a speed boost.

Enchantment: Furor is excellent against high-mobility teams. It lets me catch up to a fleeing enemy if I snare them with Grasping Roots.

Enchantment: Captain is more of support-worthy item. Zyra is decent with this since she typically hangs around at the back of a teamfight, so disengaging can be achieved more easily. Typically, this is the least viable of enchantments.

Enchantment: Homeguard is great if you find yourself in a match where you barely survive teamfights. One quick trip back home and you can zip out of the base to push or secure/ward objectives. Or, very helpful if your base is pushed already. This one is probably the most conditional of all enchantments, but not entirely useless.

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Lane Matchups

Now, obviously whether or not you can use this guide to full effect will depend on each match. To help to that end, I've provided a list of nearly all possible lane matchups you may encounter in the midlane. Just open the "spoiler" box to get a more in-depth description of the individual matchups for each section listed below.

Easy Lanes

These lanes are typically easy because the enemies are low mobility, shorter ranged, or squishy.

Typically won with aggression and strong harass.

Spoiler: Click to view

Medium Lanes

These champions present a slight challenge because they can trade spell damage well, have equal or better burst, and/or higher range than Zyra.

These lanes are typically easy to win with poke harass, pre-lvl 6 aggression, or zoning.

LeBlanc >> Brand
Spoiler: Click to view

Ahri >> Syndra
Spoiler: Click to view

Difficult Lanes

These champions typically have high mobility, ranged cc, or superior poke. These lanes should be avoided if possible.

It is possible to win these lanes with tower hugging, plant harass, and passive farming.

detailed explanations coming very soon
Spoiler: Click to view

Hard Counter

Zyra's (and many mid champions') true counter. Do not fight in this lane if you can help it.

Hug the tower, farm passively, and try to plant harass.

detailed explanation coming very soon
Spoiler: Click to view

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Summary and Credit

There you have it! I hope this was informative and gave you the urge to play Zyra mid in Preseason 3. Try out the new masteries with her, see how you like them. If you found something does or doesn't work, please let me know here.

If you like this guide, please upvote. Comments are always appreciated! Thanks!


Big thanks to jhoijhoi and her guides. Anyone who is even momentarily thinking about writing a guide of any sort should check out her "Guide to Guides".

Also, thanks to Unholy Wish! Unholy's YouTube channel has excellent pro play montages of a few champions, definitely check those out!

Thanks to the League of Legends Wikia for extra spell information.

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If there are any major changes done to this guide, I will post them here.

Upcoming updates: More images, more video, and a lane matchup section!

12/7/2012 - Published!

12/8/2012 - Added a Summoner Spells section, alternative Runes, and Enchantments; beefed up Skill Sequence; format clean-up

12/11/2012 - Added a video to skill combo, added Lane Matchup section, and cleaned up format, new colors for emphasis