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Zilean Build Guide by Pognog

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[10.4] Bomblord Zilean - Ranked Support

By Pognog | Updated on February 21, 2020

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Runes: Standard support

1 2
Inspiration
Glacial Augment
Magical Footwear
Biscuit Delivery
Cosmic Insight

Precision
Presence of Mind
Coup de Grace
Bonus:

+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor

Spells:

Standard spells
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite

Ignite

LeagueSpy Logo
Support Role
Ranked #7 in
Support Role
Win 51%
Get More Stats

Ability Order Standard support

Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
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None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies

Champion Build Guide

[10.4] Bomblord Zilean - Ranked Support

By Pognog
Welcome to this Zilean guide! We will be looking at ways to play Zilean as a support in ranked and carry your team to victory!

After extensive testing and theorycrafting over many hundreds of Zilean games, I have decided to collate all my suggestions, tips and ideas about playing the Chronokeeper.

Before we begin, there are some important factors to consider when deciding whether to begin learning / playing Zilean at a serious level.
  • Zilean is not a traditionally OP champion. If you are expecting to pick him up, jump into ranked and start climbing to Challenger you are going to have a bad time. Zilean has the potential to be a great champion in a variety of situations but only if you are willing to put in the time to master him.

  • Zilean is INCREDIBLY clunky. After playing a number of games you will start to notice that often your Time Bombs don't go exactly where you want them to, they seem to be prioritising the wrong targets, they stick to your allies instead of the low health enemy champions, and you start channelling your passive in the middle of teamfights even when you didn't click. Be prepared to experience some incredibly frustrating mechanics.

  • Your teammates WILL flame the **** out of you for missing your ultimate. Even if you get 9 excellent, life-saving Chronoshifts in a row, your team will stay silent until that 10th one comes along and you muck up. Be prepared to see Zilean: R - Ready spammed in the chat every time you make a mistake.

Hopefully you've made it this far and haven't been scared off - if so, let's jump right into the guide!
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+ Insane teamfight potential
+ Great area damage + stun
+ Amazing speed capabilities for self + allies
+ Excellent saves thanks to Chronoshift
+ Extreme lock down



- Incredibly squishy
- Clunky mechanics
- No sustain
- High skill requirement
- Susceptible to hard CC
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There are two main rune builds that will be discussed in this guide: a Glacial Augment build that focuses on utility through slows; and a more AP-focused alternative using Summon Aery and Archangel's Staff.


Standard Support (Freeze Build)



GLACIAL AUGMENT

A great choice for Zilean as slows are an excellent way to guarantee a stun with Time Bomb. By combining an auto attack + Time Warp in the laning phase you can lock down opponents and secure early kills. This slow will also apply when using Hextech GLP-800 and Twin Shadows which puts the utility of this rune/build combo through the roof.

PERFECT TIMING

The one-time use stopwatch can come in great use for early game engagements and will also save you gold later on if you are intending on purchasing Zhonya's Hourglass.

Patch 10.4: no longer grants reduced cooldown to Zhonya's etc... consider replacing with Magical Footwear and skipping Zhonyas

BISCUIT DELIVERY

Anything that increases / restores mana is a favourable choice on Zilean, especially during laning phase when you will be constantly using abilities on a limited mana pool. Don't forget you can sell these biscuits for gold (and still receive the increased mana).

COSMIC INSIGHT

Cooldown reduction is vital for Zilean to perform well as he is extremely ability-reliant. Aim to get to 40 or 45% every game.


Secondary Runes


PRESENCE OF MIND

Increasing maximum mana is very useful for Zilean as he requires constant spamming throughout the game. Also restores some much needed mana on takedowns which comes in great use during teamfights.

COUP DE GRACE

This rune is particularly effective as frequently enemy champions will flee with a Time Bomb planted while on low health, and having every little extra bit of damage to help secure the kill is important.


Minor Runes


Offense: +9 adaptive force (the CDR rune would be wasted as we will have reached 45% due to items, and attack speed is not useful)

Flex: +9 adaptive force (as an AP-support the extra damage is more useful)

Defense: +6 armour (this choice is mostly up to you - armour is useful against the enemy ADC and other sources like minions and towers)


Alternatives


MAGICAL FOOTWEAR

An alternative to Perfect Timing if you are not intending on buying Zhonya's Hourglass. Oftentimes as a support you will not earn enough gold to reach Zhonya's anyway so this is a perfectly valid secondary choice.



Full AP Support



SUMMON AERY

A great keystone choice on Zilean as you can apply the shield to allies with Time Warp. While small, this can be life saving in certain situations like when an ally is Ignited. It also adds some extra potency to your poke to whittle down the opponents faster.

Don't forget - Chronoshift also applies the Aery shield. Consider this if you intended to let your ally die and revive for the heal!

MANAFLOW BAND

Increased mana pool is essential in this build as the first core item will be Archangel's Staff. Also provides % mana regen which is particularly effective due to the massive mana pool in this build.

TRANSCENDENCE

With Archangel's Staff and Luden's Echo the cooldown reduction in this build will be high, allowing this rune to provide a small amount of extra ability power.

GATHERING STORM

This rune is a bit hit-or-miss however it is very nice to have on the off-chance the game goes for a long time. After just 40 minutes you are looking at an extra 80 AP which is massive and will help you scale to be a true AP carry in late game situations.


Secondary Runes


PRESENCE OF MIND

Increased mana pool is essential in this build as the first core item will be Archangel's Staff. Also restores some much needed mana on takedowns which comes in great use during teamfights.

COUP DE GRACE

This rune is particularly effective as frequently enemy champions will flee with a Time Bomb planted while on low health, and having every little extra bit of damage to help secure the kill is important.


Minor Runes


Offense: +1-10% CDR (Once we reach 40% CDR from items, the 10% provided here will convert into +20 AP thanks to Transcendence. Can use +9 adaptive force if you prefer the early-game damage boost)

Flex: +9 adaptive force (as an AP-support the extra damage is more useful)

Defense: +6 armour (this choice is mostly up to you - armour is useful against the enemy ADC and other sources like minions and towers)


Alternatives


SCORCH

A popular choice for the third slot - it is absolutely personal preference as to whether to bring Scorch or Gathering Storm, however ensure you are confident hitting frequent bombs throughout laning phase in order to make this rune efficient.

PERFECT TIMING

A good choice if you are intending on fitting Zhonya's Hourglass into your build. However this requires sacrificing some maximum mana as the secondary rune tree has to be switched to Inspiration.

BISCUIT DELIVERY

Good for early game sustain, and does increase mana pool, however it has overall worse sustain potential than Presence of Mind.

COSMIC INSIGHT

Always a good choice on support. Increased CDR will allow you to be less selective with your Time Bomb attempts, however you will have to sacrifice the additional 8% damage from Coup de Grace in order to take this rune.
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FLASH

A necessary must-have on (nearly) every champion, Zilean included. With no in-built gap closer, Flash is essential for escaping dangerous situations or setting up plays.

IGNITE

A great choice to supplement Zilean's damage capabilities, especially in early-game engagements. Also useful against healing champions like Soraka, Vladimir and Dr. Mundo.

EXHAUST

While it has mostly fallen out of use in favour of Ignite in the current meta, in Patch 10.4 it has received slight buffs to duration (2.5 seconds -> 3.0 seconds) and it is still a great option if you are versing opponents with high-threat windows. A well timed Exhaust can save your teammates from getting assassinated or bursted.
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PASSIVE: Time in a Bottle


A pretty unique passive that can be cast on allies to level them up (2 minute cooldown), assuming you have stored up enough experience to complete their level. This is especially useful in laning phase as you can catch up when behind, or push quickly to level 2 to win early trades.


Passive Tips

  • The passive will be placed on a short cooldown when Zilean takes or deals damage (excluding minions). Keep this in mind when rushing level 2, as if you decide to throw a Time Bomb out right before your lane partner becomes clickable, you will be unable to active the passive.

  • It is wise to retreat back slightly before attempting to channel the passive as often opponents will choose that moment to engage - you are standing still after all! Getting hit by the enemy champions will also cancel the channel and place it on a short cooldown so it's best to hide behind minions / tower beforehand.

  • There is a small "bug" with his passive where sometimes if you click near an ally just as they are becoming clickable, Zilean will begin channelling the passive even if that wasn't your intention. Bear this in mind as it can be potentially crippling in team fights - attempting to run up and ult your dying teammate only to level them up instead is very embarrassing!

  • Technically this passive will "heal" allies as the level up will increase their max HP, but it will not activate Summon Aery or provide assists.


Q: Time Bomb


A ground-targeted AoE damage tool that will snap to units. If a second bomb is applied to the same target (by using Rewind), the first bomb is detonated and all nearby enemy units are stunned.

Zilean's bread and butter skill that does great damage and CC. While it is quite clunky and difficult to use, a well placed double bomb can do incredible damage and completely turn fights in your favour.


Tips

  • Grants vision - use it to scout bushes so you don't have to face check, or to check Dragon / Baron if you don't have any wards.

  • Targeting an enemy champion with Time Bomb will draw turret aggro, even before the damage goes off.

  • Can be targeted on ANY unit (self, allied champions / minions, enemy champions / minions, and monsters). Use this knowledge to your advantage - even if enemy champions are not in reach, often just by targeting enemy minions you can catch them unawares, or target allied minions that are on the move and let them deliver the bomb for you.

    Example


  • A great combo is to throw ONE bomb onto an allied champion who is about to engage a fight - usually works best with hard engagers or pick-champs like Rammus, Blitzcrank or bruisers - then speed them up with Time Warp, and once they are in range of the opponents, Rewind and second Time Bomb to AoE stun. This will actually give you a greater effective range on the bomb throw as you only have to hit your teammate who will be standing closer to you than the enemy will. Just make sure you don't wait too long or the first bomb will time out.

    Example


  • Zilean really shines in situations with premade teammates as they will be more likely to be aware of your Time Bomb positioning and will react accordingly, by picking up bombs that missed a target or carrying bombs into the enemy team.

    Example


  • The large hitboxes of Dragon / Rift Herald / Baron allow you to easily stun opponents trying to take those objectives - just aim for the monster rather than the enemies.

  • If a unit dies while it has a bomb, the bomb will automatically detonate. You can take advantage of this by aiming for low-health allied minions that are about to be last-hit for some unexpected poke.

  • The above can also be very useful when farming creeps as you can detonate bombs by auto attacking the unit to death, saving mana on a double bomb.

    Example



Rewind

A unique aspect of Zilean's kit that allows him to reduce his other basic ability cooldowns by 10 seconds. By casting Time Bomb twice you can stun opponents in an area.

Tips

  • In order to get the maximum usage out of this spell, it is more efficient to use both Q and E before casting W rather than just refunding cooldown on ONE of those abilities.

  • Does not reduce ultimate cooldown (any more).


Time Warp

Target an allied champion / self to give a massive speed boost, or an enemy champion to apply a slow.

The playmaking opportunities of this ability are endless, as at max rank it provides a +/- 100% speed modifier which is MASSIVE.

Tips

  • In the laning phase, try to gear near enough to your opponents to Time Warp slow them before using Q. Landing Time Bomb is much easier on a slower enemy and can help you burn Flash or get an early kill.

  • Generally speaking, if you outnumber your opponents you will want to use Time Warp to SLOW, and if you are outnumbered use it for SPEED - slowing down a single enemy allows all your teammates to catch up whereas speeding up one ally only lets that one ally engage; and slowing down a single enemy when there are many others nearby will probably not accomplish much so you are better off trying to escape / save allies via the speed boost.

  • Use your Time Warp speed boost in conjunction with other speed boosts to maximise the effect - casting E on a Powerball'ed Rammus or an Overdrive + Righteous Glory'd Blitzcrank can produce crazy speeds and create amazing initiation or chase opportunities.


    Example



Chronoshift

Cast a rune onto an ally for 5 seconds - if that ally dies while under the effect, they will be brought back to life and healed.

A brilliant spell that is perfect for saving caught teammates, creating dive opportunities, stalling time for cooldowns and much much more. Having that peace of mind that you can play more dangerously than other champions allows for some incredibly cheeky plays that will leave your opponents fuming.
Can't Killean the Zilean

Tips


  • It is tempting to wait until the very last possible second before casting Chronoshift, and when it works it really catches the enemy by surprise. However, it is really very easy to mess up and accidentally let an ally die - which there is a high chance they will FLAME you for - so usually you are better off playing it safe and ulting a little bit early. Use that 5 second window to your advantage... even if the enemies wise up and try to avoid activating the ult by stopping attacking, sometimes that is enough for your ally to escape and survive.

  • You CANNOT cast Chronoshift while hard CC'ed (stun, silence, suppress, sleep etc.) This is another reason why it can be beneficial to cast slightly earlier as you may not have the opportunity later on.

  • Chronoshift will be consumed BEFORE other revive mechanics like Guardian Angel, Rebirth and Cell Division. As the cooldown is much lower, it is generally in your ally's best interests to cast your ultimate FIRST, hopefully protecting their longer cooldowns from being wasted.

  • Often times your allies will not be expecting Chronoshift and so will attempt to save their own life by using Heal, Flash or Zhonya's Hourglass. It is difficult to know exactly what they are going to do, but try to gauge what cooldowns they have available, or even better if they are a premade teammate discuss which order you will use your panic buttons.

  • Chronoshift will NOT work if the target dies to the spawn pool turret, so don't try it!

  • Will apply Summon Aery shield - this can be a good or a bad thing! (You usually want your ally to die so they are healed)
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Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

> > >

Upgrading Zilean's ultimate Chronoshift should be your first priority at levels 6, 11 and 18. With a max rank ultimate and max cooldown reduction, you can get below a 36 second cooldown.

The first basic ability to focus should be Time Bomb. As your sole damaging spell, it is critical that we get it as potent as possible, especially considering we will be using it twice! The cooldown also gets lowered with rank which is nice if you accidentally mess up with Rewind.

Next in this build it is recommended you max Time Warp. While Rewind is also a viable option, and allows you to cast your Q+W+Q combo much more frequently, the additional speed and slow from Time Warp is just too good to pass up. The 100% slow at max rank is utterly devastating and the base rank is fairly underwhelming in comparison.

Lastly finish off Rewind, lowering the cooldown and therefore allowing you to spam your Time Bomb and Time Warp much more frequently. If you feel like there are not many opportunities to utilise a maxed Time Warp in your game, you can instead prioritise Rewind and rank E last.
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STANDARD SUPPORT (FREEZE BUILD)
+++ Utility ++ Damage



Starting Items


Relic Shield

I generally prefer to run Relic Shield in most matchups as it is a lot more reliable when it comes to producing gold. While it is possible to earn more gold using Spellthief's Edge, quite often you will be versing a matchup or in a situation where it is difficult to make use of the stacks - for example, if you are behind in-lane it is often much too dangerous to step forward to poke the enemy laners. With Relic Shield, you can still safely earn gold towards your warding item upgrade.

OR

Spellthief's Edge

If you are in a matchup where you feel comfortable pushing your advantage and poking, then Spellthief's Edge is a strong option. With well-timed Time Bombs you can earn a large amount of gold and the extra damage per stack, while low, will add up for some additional poke throughout laning phase. Be sure to use these stacks whenever you can (hit the turret if you have to), otherwise this item is NOT RECOMMENDED. In undesirable matchups it can take upwards of 20 minutes to upgrade this item if you don't make use of the stacks.

DON'T FORGET

Health Potions x2

Necessary for early-game lane sustain, especially on a champion with no in-built self-healing like Zilean.

Warding Totem

Will be essential in providing early-game vision before you have earned enough gold to upgrade your support item. Generally try and place a defensive ward somewhere along the river / jungle entrances at the start of the game (before the minions spawn) to prevent invades and give information about early enemy movements.

Early Purchases


Boots of Speed

Often you will not end up having enough gold to finish any significant items on your first back so it's usually a good idea to pick up boots (unless you are running Magical Footwear.

Lost Chapter

A mana-hungry champion like Zilean needs some increased mana pool and regeneration in order to be at all effective. Lost Chapter is a great purchase for early game sustain and damage.

Control Ward

Ideally you should grab a pink ward on your first back to help protect against jungler ganks or aid your own jungler in ganking undetected.

Mid-game Core


Targon's Buckler

Try and upgrade your support item as early as possible by focusing on securing last hit executes on siege or melee minions whenever available. At the start of the game, it can be a good idea to save your stacks for the second wave as you can target healthier creeps - when combined with Time in a Bottle you can rush level 2 and engage the enemy.

Hextech GLP-800

An excellent early purchase that is great for locking down enemy target(s) for prompt Time Bomb stuns. As it also applies Glacial Augment, the enemy champions will be brought to a standstill especially when combined with Time Warp. It also supplements Zilean's burst nicely as he does technically only have one damaging ability.

Boots of Mobility

A good option to enhance the utility of this build by allowing Zilean to rotate between lanes with ease. An already quick champion thanks to Time Warp and Rewind, the extra speed will greatly help moving around the map and assisting teammates in skirmishes. The loss of speed during combat isn't too noticeable on ranged champions like Zilean and you can always supplement yourself with Time Warp.

Twin Shadows

Another excellent source of utility, like Hextech GLP-800 these spooky ghosts will also apply Glacial Augment, allowing you to engage on opponents from great distance and close the gap with Time Warp. It also provides all the stats that we need as Zilean (AP, CDR, MS) which makes this a great choice in the mid-game.

Oracle Lens

Once your support item has been upgraded and carries wards, you should replace Warding Totem with Oracle Lens. Clear wards wherever possible to keep your ward score high.

Luxury Items


Rabadon's Deathcap

If the game goes long enough that you can afford to buy Deathcap, your power will spike dramatically. The extra ability power is amazing and allows you to drop atomic bombs on the enemy. Definitely a core purchase but it is quite common as support that you will not earn enough money throughout the game to buy these luxury items.

Zhonya's Hourglass

A great panic button for escaping deadly abilities and situations. Especially viable when running Perfect Timing as you will not have to pay for the stopwatch. Doesn't really add much utility to the build in terms of slows and bomb damage however the ability power and cooldown reduction is still nice.

Void Staff

If the enemy team is stacking magic resistance and you are lacking damage in late-game, Void Staff is a great choice, however this is usually not a viable option in most games as support.

Spellbinder

Another great AP-boosting item that synergises well with Zilean's spammy nature in the late game. The speed and AP boost is also particularly useful when combined with Time Warp and can get you out of sticky situations.

Morellonomicon

A good purchase if the enemy team is heavy on healing or you didn't bring Ignite. The additional flat magic penetration is also great for Time Bomb damage.

Luden's Echo

A great choice for providing extra AP burst damage and increased mana pool. Slightly less effective as it shares the "Haste" passive with Hextech GLP-800 which is a core early-game purchase in this build. Still a viable choice if none of the above options are suitable (it's a good standard pick when you just need a bit more of everything).

Banshee's Veil

An uncommon purchase for support players but can be useful in the situations where enemy abilities are being problematic (ie. Rocket Grab or the other team is heavy in the magic-damage department). Generally speaking it would be more beneficial to the team for you to pick up one of the above items instead.

FULL AP SUPPORT (AERY BUILD)
+++ Damage ++ Utility



An alternative to the Glacial Augment freeze build is a higher-AP option that makes use of Summon Aery. The build path differs quite substantially as Hextech GLP-800 and Twin Shadows are much less effective without Glacial Augment.

Starter Items

Spellthief's Edge

In order to use this item effectively you have to be proactive in poking the enemy opponent. As Zilean this will primarily be through Time Bomb however you can also try to land auto attacks by using Time Warp as often the opponents will be ready to dodge your bombs. Also remember to auto attack towers as often as possible.

Health Potion x2

Necessary for early-game sustain.

Warding Totem

Necessary for early-game warding, especially if you are running Spellthief's Edge and are struggling to earn gold towards the upgrade.

First Back

Tear of the Goddess

As soon as you have 850g you should try to recall and buy Tear. The earlier you can begin stacking the mana the better, and the mana refund will help greatly in early-game trades. It's pretty painful to have to buy only part of the item as they don't benefit you very much so try to stall your recall until you have enough money if possible.

Early Game

Boots of Speed

You'll probably want to pick these up after Tear of the Goddess unless you are doing really well and can afford a bigger item like Lost Chapter.

Lost Chapter

Greatly helps in mana sustain and early game damage and is necessary in building our main core item, Archangels.

Archangel's Staff

The Archangel's power spike is incredible, even as your first purchase. The earlier you buy it the faster you will be able to stack up Tear of the Goddess and increase your AP.

The early-game boost in ability power is amazing and will seriously catch your opponents off-guard.
Example

Control Ward

Ideally you should grab a pink ward on your first back to help protect against jungler ganks or aid your own jungler in ganking undetected.

Oracle Lens

As soon as you have upgraded your support item to include wards you should replace your trinket with Oracle Lens. It is important to clear enemy wards whenever possible to deny vision and help secure objectives around the map.

Mid-game Core


Sorcerer's Shoes

Not an essential rush purchase but should be picked up soon after Archangel's Staff. Flat magic penetration is very useful on mages and Zilean is no exception.

Luden's Echo

While it does share the Haste passive with archangels' staff, Luden's is too good a purchase to pass up when playing full AP Zilean. Not only does it give a massive amount of AP and some good CDR, it also grants mana which when combined with Archangel's means even more AP. The passive damage effect is also really nice to supplement Time Bomb and provide extra burst. It also works with Summon Aery to do that last little bit of damage to finish off weak opponents after your bomb combo.

Rabadon's Deathcap

Once you can afford Rabadon's Deathcap your AoE Time Bomb combos in teamfights will completely decimate the opponents.

Luxury Items


Zhonya's Hourglass

A good choice if you are dying to power abilities and need the panic button. Should only be purchased after your core items as it is more of a luxury choice.

Spellbinder

A great all-around 6th item that provides a good chunk of AP and a useful passive that synergises well with Time Warp. Constant Rewind spam will stack up the passive quite quickly.

Void Staff

A good alternate 6th purchase if you are facing a team with high magic resistance. Generally speaking, raw AP items tend to be more useful on Zilean however play it by ear and definitely pick this item up if need be.
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Thankyou for reading this guide for Support Zilean!
Feel free to leave any comments / suggestions / questions in the comments.
Hopefully with these ideas you can learn to master the great champion of Zilean!
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Version History
League of Legends Build Guide Author Pognog
Pognog Zilean Guide

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[10.4] Bomblord Zilean - Ranked Support