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Zilean Build Guide by Arcurath

Support [12.15] Arcurath's Rank 1 Zilean Support Guide

Support [12.15] Arcurath's Rank 1 Zilean Support Guide

Updated on August 14, 2022
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Arcurath Build Guide By Arcurath 131 6 318,066 Views 17 Comments
131 6 318,066 Views 17 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Arcurath Zilean Build Guide By Arcurath Updated on August 14, 2022
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Arcurath's Featured Video
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Runes: Into hard engage

1 2 3
Resolve
Guardian
Font of Life
Bone Plating
Unflinching

Sorcery
Manaflow Band
Transcendence
Bonus:

+8 ability haste
+6 Armor
+6 Armor

Spells:

1 2
Swap based on what adc takes
LoL Summoner Spell: Exhaust

Exhaust

LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

Threats & Synergies

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

Champion Build Guide

[12.15] Arcurath's Rank 1 Zilean Support Guide

By Arcurath
Hello there gamers! My name is Arcurath, I am a Master Support main on EUW. I’ve been playing League of Legends since Season 5, with my fair share of experience playing all the roles here and there over the years.

I have been playing Zilean since Season 8 and have peaked 1st in EUW and 3rd globally on the Zilean leaderboard.

I am very passionate to help players improve with high quality educational content, so I am working hard on building a career as both a Coach as well as a Content Creator.

I hope this guide will be useful for you, and that you're able to find success on your journey to become a true Zilean enjoyer!

If you have any questions or suggestions about the guide then feel free to leave a comment, I will try to respond to everything! You can also join my Discord and let's have a proper discussion. If you want to support my guide, an upvote or +rep would be very much appreciated.
Before the guide fully begins, I would like to give a shameless promotion of the coaching services I offer!

My key philosophy when coaching is focused on maximising the enjoyment and efficiency in my students.

I coach in a structured format as follows:

Introduction - We discuss what you are looking to achieve from coaching, and if there’s any specific session types I would recommend based on that.

Session - We will have our session as planned from the introduction.

Summary - I will give you a debrief rundown of all the major points we went through during the session, as well as some targets to work on going forward.

If you are interested in coaching but would like to see more information, feel free to check out these links:
Discord - for reviews from my previous students.
YouTube - for examples of previous sessions.
Metafy - for more information about specific sessions.

I will always aim to provide a high-quality service that will genuinely help every player improve at the game, no matter what problems they may be struggling with personally. If you have a specific concern that you think wouldn’t usually fit in a session list, then let me know, I can definitely work something out that suits any player!

After having a session, I will always be available any time in the future to answer any extra questions you may have.

I hope you will consider booking me as your coach!
So why do I play Zilean? Let’s dive into the reasoning!

Firstly I have always loved playing underrated characters in any game I play, especially PVP based ones, as I believe it gives you a mental advantage vs enemies as they will be thinking you are trolling or a noob playing a bad character that no one plays!

Due to Zilean being underrated you will rarely see Zilean being banned or picked away, which allows you to play him every game if you wanted to. This is also good for the long term too as it means Zilean is basically never directly touched in patch notes with a nerf or buff, so he is a very stable and reliable champion.

Continuing on the underrated point, because Zilean is underrated therefore under picked, most of your enemies will have rarely faced Zilean and will struggle to understand what to do vs him, or in some cases how the champion even works.

This point also works the other way around with teammates as well though - How often do you have teammates completely stop walking when you are giving them Experience from Time in a Bottle? I still see that here and there haha!

I am far from the greatest mechanical player on the planet with insane reaction times. This is one main reason why I am a huge fan of Zilean thanks to the simplicity of his kit in general, all his abilities are straight forward simple with just 1 skill shot being Time Bomb. Due to this simplicity, I feel champions like Zilean are very important to have in the game, especially with all these crazy 200 years of experience champions coming out more and more often!

I hope some of these points resonate with you and give you a better understanding of why Zilean may be very worthwhile picking up into your champion pool.

Pros

Very low pick/ban rate
Never directly nerfed/buffed
Underrated champ
Best speed/slow buff in game
Protect MVP ally very well
Useful utility even when behind in gold

Cons

Extremely weak early game
Have to rely on teammates
Can be easily bursted with no ult
Takes a long time to master his kit
Must have good positioning
Long CDs + high mana costs early
Passive: Time in a Bottle
Time in a Bottle is a very nice and simple passive ability that provides one of the most important resources in the game, Experience. Zilean stores up Experience then can gift it to an ally who is close to levelling up. Zilean also receives the same amount of Experience that he gives.

Time in a Bottle is very powerful for getting you and your allies level power spikes earlier than your enemies, especially at key intervals such as level 3, 6, 11, 16.

The only downside to Time in a Bottle is that it's very clunky if it's ready during a fight, as it begins to channel when you right click on them which is awkward in the middle of a fight when you are trying to move around and buff allies with Time Warp and Chronoshift!
Q: Time Bomb
Time Bomb is Zilean's bread and butter ability. A timed bomb that will attach on to any living unit and explode after 3 seconds. This is Zilean's only damaging ability so it has very decent base damage on it. Time Bomb is used for poking, pushing waves and when paired with Rewind into another Time Bomb will result in an AOE stun.

Time Bomb provides vision where it lands until it explodes, so I recommend getting used to throwing Time Bomb in bushes instead of face checking!

A downside is that smarter enemies will intentionally pick up your Time Bombs and walk them into their wave and explode them there to force your minion wave to push into them, which can result in you getting punished by a gank in the early game where Zilean is weakest.
W: Rewind
Rewind is probably the most simple ability in the game. It reduces Time Bomb and Time Warp's cooldowns by 10 seconds, yes that is it!

Rewind allows us to do the classic double bomb combo by using Time Bomb into Rewind into a second Time Bomb for an AOE stun and damage.

There are no downsides at all, just a great simple ability that enhances Zilean's basic abilities to be used more often. Running around with Time Warp off cooldown is very fun!
E: Time Warp
Time Warp is one of the main reasons I love Zilean so much. I think that Time Warp is the best speed buff and slow debuff in the game.

Running around the map together with an ally at super speed having great tempo compared to the enemy team is so valuable both macro and micro wise.

On the other side, you know how nowadays every new champion that comes out with 2 or more dashes? That's not a problem for Zilean, as being one of the OG champions he has been gifted one of the strongest and most tilt-worthy point and click slows in the game!
R: Chronoshift
Chronoshift is one of the strongest ultimates in the game. Being able to protect an ally or yourself from dying for 5 seconds and then reviving is extremely powerful in general.

Chronoshift is not just a defensive tool though, you can use it aggressively for very clean and safe tower dives, or forcing fights where you gladly trade kills with enemies as you aren't actually dying!

Would always recommend figuring out who the absolute MVP on your team is before a fight and making sure you are always keeping Chronoshift for them, however, if you see the fight is going great and they are positioned well you can use it on someone else if needed, such as a dying front liner.

The only thing you have to watch out for and get used to is timing Chronoshift well, if you use it too early enemies will just back off until it runs out, and if you use it too late, well your ally or you are dead. This is where game knowledge and experience as a whole come in as you have to understand the limits of damage that enemies deal and that your allies take to be prepared for optimal timing! As well as also considering your own positioning so you aren't at risk of being hard CC'd which would stop you from casting.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

Tip to note: At level 2, you can wait and not level up an ability until you know which will be needed in that situation, as level 2 bot lane fights can be very different based on whether you level Rewind or Time Warp.
Flash is a must have on pretty much every single champion in the game. Zilean is no exception to that obviously. Zilean is an immobile champion with no dash or blink spell so Flash is needed to get out of them sticky situations.
Exhaust is most likely always going to be the second summoner you are taking every game. It is extremely strong being able to reduce an enemy's damage and slowing them down, which just compliments Zilean's kit very well when paired with Chronoshift and Time Warp, as you are making the enemy really struggle to get any kills at all!
Heal is usually only taken when your bot lane partner wants to take Exhaust instead of you. It doesn't synergise too well with Zilean as you save allies with Chronoshift. However the movespeed and health it provides can be pretty clutch for saving allies before you hit level 6 and unlock Chronoshift.
Ignite can be taken in favourable matchups where you are looking to dominate lane with extra kill pressure. It is also good for applying grevious wounds vs healing champions such as Soraka, this being due to Oblivion Orb not being very cost effective on Zilean as he only has 1 damaging spell being Time Bomb that would apply it.
Cleanse may be worth taking in extremely rare situations where the enemy team is completely stacked full of hard CC. Usually you should be fine just with Unflinching, Mercury's Treads, Mikael's Blessing and good positioning. I would only reccomend taking Cleanse if you are seriously worried you wont survive long enough until you can buy Mercury's Treads.
Resolve
Guardian has been my go-to keystone on Zilean the entire time I have played him.

It really helps with covering up Zilean's weak early game by providing some added survivability for you and your lane partner. Synergises well with my build that stacks a lot of HP as Guardian's shield scales with 8% bonus HP and 12.5% AP.

Also adds in a shield to play around which Zilean lacks in his kit, that pairs well with Time Warp, but you have to be careful as it also procs with Chronoshift, which can end badly as the Guardian shield will block damage, which could prevent your ally from taking lethal damage to trigger Chronoshift's revive.

Sadly Guardian has been nerfed repeatedly over the years. Due to these nerfs I might be looking at swapping to Summon Aery the majority of the time unless I'm facing an extremely hard engage matchup.
Font of Life is the only real choice out of the top row in the resolve tree.

Provides some healing to allies who auto attack any targets you have CC'd with Time Bomb stuns or Time Warp slows.

Synergises well with my build that stacks a lot of HP as Font of Life's heal scales with 0.9% of max HP.
Conditioning can be a solid situational choice if you know you are vs a free scaling matchup that has no real threat of poking or engaging on you.

Getting +8 Armour and +8 Magic Resist, as well as increasing Armour and Magic Resist by 3% after 12 minutes for free is nothing to complain about, some great free increased tankiness!
Second Wind is a great situational choice when facing hard poke lanes or team compositions in general.

Provides some nice health regeneration sustain of 3 + 4% missing health over 10 seconds, a good tip to know is that it will keep re-applying the regeneration if you take damage again during it!

Also good for sustaining long drawn out messy fights for objectives such as Dragon or Baron.
Bone Plating is a must have in situations where you are vs hard engage kill lanes.

The added tankiness you get from reducing the next 3 attacks or spells from an enemy by 30-60 (based on level) is very valuable, especially in kill lanes as they will have high burst damage that can punish Zilean's very weak early game.

A downside to Bone Plating is that the enemy ADC can just attack you from range to proc it and then wait until it's on cooldown to engage on you.

Important to note that the damage being reduced only applies to the champion that attacked you first.
Revitalize is a decent choice for increasing your buffing potential.

You get a free 5% Heal and Shield Power, as well as increased healing and shielding by 10% on targets below 40% health (including yourself).

This pairs well with all the different healing and shielding we are using such as Guardian or Summon Aery, Font of Life, Second Wind, Chronoshift, Heal, Redemption and Mikael's Blessing.

Although I must say that most of the time you will be healing people to full health with Chronoshift in general, so it can be overkill trying to squeeze out extra healing.
Unflinching is most likely the best all round choice in the bottom row, this being due to how often you will face some form of CC on the enemy team no matter what.

I used to run Revitalize for quite a while but realised it's more important to not be CC'd so you can cast your spells, rather than having some extra Heal and Shield Power, especially since you can buy plenty of it easily, but tenacity and slow resist is harder to buy.

Unflinching grants base 5% slow resist and tenacity, and then increases based on your missing health, so we can pair this with Chronoshift sticking around at fights to bait in the enemies!
Sorcery
Summon Aery is becoming a more promising keystone choice due to Guardian nerfs and the meta having less engage supports on average.

You are trading the added survivability of taking Guardian and the resolve tree as a whole, but exchanging it for more damage overall.

I would only recommend taking Summon Aery when you are in favourable or even matchups, where extra survivability isn't needed.

Allows you to build items such as Chemtech Putrifier, Staff of Flowing Water and Ardent Censer due to the consistent shielding possible.
Manaflow Band is a must-have choice. Getting a bonus 250 mana, but more importantly restoring 1% of missing mana every 5 seconds, some very nice stats for free!

Allows you to have better mana sustain, especially in lane before you have recalled and bought a Faerie Charm. Due to this mana sustain, it allows you to be more active in lane with your spells, putting more pressure on the enemies or making plays.
Transcendence is an absolute must-have. The amount of value this single rune provides alone is bonkers!

At level 5 you get +5 Ability Haste, at level 8 you get +5 Ability Haste and most importantly at level 11 you unlock a powerful passive, scoring a takedown vs an enemy champion will reduce the remaining cooldown of basic abilities by 20%. Crazy value getting all of this for free!

Now imagine we are pairing Transcendence with Rewind for a ridiculous amount of ability usage during fights, perma slow or speed up with Time Warp, as well as Time Bomb stuns or zoning in choke points, the options are limitless, what can the enemies do vs that amount of abilities?
Scorch is only really an option when you are in a favourable matchup that you can poke the enemies super hard in lane.

Has been both directly and indirectly buffed with the recent nerfs to sustain as a whole for Health Potion, Refillable Potion, Resolve and Inspiration runes.
Waterwalking is more of a niche situational choice.

Can be taken in situations where you are looking to roam for most of the game and have a big impact for your team in the early game.

Gives you some great bonus stats while in the river, so if you are roaming from lane through the river the bonus 25 Movement Speed is useful, as well as the bonus 5-30 AP (based on level) for fights contesting Dragon.
Gathering Storm is the best choice when you are in free scaling matchups.

Since in most scaling lanes you won't have to worry much about having bonus damage or bonus sustain, you can go for some free bonus AP every 10 minutes, so by 20 minutes would end up with +24 AP for free.

Gathering Storm becomes increasingly more valuable if games extend for a long time, so with Zilean being one of the strongest scaling late game champions, so they synergise well.
Stat Shards
+8 Ability Haste is the best choice for Zilean as one of the key stats he wants is Ability Haste.
+6 Armour is a solid choice when you are vs AD damage based champions in lane.
+8 Magic Resist is a solid choice when you are vs AP damage based champions in lane.
+15-140 Health (based on level) is a great option for having some extra tankiness that scales with level, as well as providing some instant value synergy with Guardian and Font of Life.
+9 Adaptive Force is only really an option when you are in a free matchup that you can scale in or even be aggressive, where the bonus AP will be impactful.
Starting
Spellthief's Edge is stronger than Relic Shield due to a few reasons being: the stats it offers are useful for Zilean such as AP, HP and mana regeneration. As well as providing a higher gold income if you are damaging enemies, this allows you to complete your support item quest much faster than Relic Shield if you are playing well with your Time Bombs and autos in lane.
Relic Shield is the more defensive choice when you are vs harder matchups where the bonus HP and safer gold income is valued so you don't suffer as much. Relic Shield can be useful for when you want to push out a cannon wave quickly as you execute minions at half health.
Boots
Ionian Boots of Lucidity is the best choice for Zilean as they provide 20 Ability Haste very early in the game which is very valuable. Also, an underrated part people forget about is the passive that gives summoner spell haste, which gives you an advantage vs enemies. All these great stats while being one of the cheapest boots in the game!
Mercury's Treads are a solid situational choice when you are facing an enemy team stacked full of hard CC, or even heavy AP burst damage. These allow you to break out of CC chains that would otherwise be stopping you from being able to use Chronoshift on an ally in a fight.
Mythic
Shurelya's Battlesong is the best and only mythic item choice for Zilean tbh. It synergises extremely well with Zilean's kit and playstyle as a whole: Such as the passive speeding you up when you buff an ally, so you can keep up with allies you use Time Warp on! As well as providing a bonus of 5 Ability Haste per legendary item. Very flexible as you can use it to speed whole team up to engage or disengage a fight.
Legendary
Anathema's Chains is my favourite legendary item in the entire game! It is so well designed in the way it works and provides everything I could wish for with my personal Zilean playstyle. It provides great stats: 650 HP and 20 Ability Haste, but more importantly reducing damage taken from the target by 30%, as well as reducing their tenacity by 20% when in range of them, which pairs extremely well with Time Bomb stuns and Time Warp slows. Absolutely incredible item for shutting down and making the enemy team's MVP completely suffer!
Redemption is always a solid stable choice if there's no real need for any of the situational items. With it's nice AOE burst of healing and damaging it can greatly shift the outcome of a teamfight. It provides useful stats such as: 15 Ability Haste, 200 HP, 16% Heal and Shield Power and 100% Base Mana Regeneration. Can be used when dead so you will still have an impact in the outcome of a fight. Semi-global range so very useful for assisting in plays far away.
Mikael's Blessing is an extremely powerful item in the right situations such as when the enemy team has a hard CC spell they are relying on for picks such as Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Sleepy Trouble Bubble or Lilting Lullaby. You can instantly cleanse hard CC (except Airborne, Blind, Disarm, Ground, Nearsight and Suppression) from an ally, or in some cases if you time it perfectly you can cleanse yourself if casted preemptively! It also has a little bonus heal for the target you cast it on, as well as having 16% Heal and Shield Power increase.
Chemtech Putrifier is the best anti-heal item in the game in my opinion. Being able to apply amplified grievous wounds for yourself and any ally you buff is extremely cost-effective. However the only problem with Chemtech Putrifier on Zilean is that you need a heal or shield to proc it, which Zilean doesn't have easily built into his kit, so I would only recommend buying if you have Summon Aery as that allows more frequent and reliable shields.
Vigilant Wardstone is a criminally underrated item. This is an absolute game changer for vision control, allowing you to have 4 basic wards and 2 control wards placed at the same time! Stat wise, Vigilant Wardstone is an absolute monster with what it provides, 15 Ability Haste and 150 HP, but most importantly it increases your bonus AD, AP, HP and Ability Haste by 12%. That means by full build we end up with an absurd amount of AP, HP and Ability Haste which is perfect for Zilean!
My personal Zilean playstyle is heavily focused on the utility side of his kit. I really enjoy buffing up my allies with Time Warp for insane speed and getting some clutch revives with Chronoshift.

On the other side I also enjoy tilting enemies by not letting them being able to reach or kill my allies, basically being a big fun ruiner for them denying any plays they would look to make. Remember that mental warfare is a key part of League of Legends, so try to get advantages from it!
Before Lane
For the first minute or so of the game before laning phase has started, there isn't too much you can do as Zilean is very weak in the early game.

The most you can do is throw Time Bombs over walls into bushes where you expect enemies to be sitting, this can result in some free Spellthief's Edge gold procs as well as Manaflow Band stack.

Always look out for an option to get any level 1 wards down in the enemy jungle to keep track of where the jungler is pathing. Alternatively, you can ward one of the bot lane bushes and recall for a sweeper to contest control of bot bushes during lane.
Laning Phase
Zilean is extremely weak early game, so you are aiming to just sit back and scale up most of the time. However, depending on what matchup you are facing, it can completely change how you will be looking to play laning phase. Please refer to my Matchups list for more in-depth specifics.

After level 3, you have a very strong gank setup with Time Warp into Time Bomb stun combo. This is the most simple but effective play that can result in enemies burning summoner spells, which you can then re-gank and punish later on. However, before level 3 Zilean is very underwhelming and weak compared to most other supports.

Zilean has a very easy way of getting wave priority in lane by using Time Bombs on the wave due to great base damage. You can then easily move and help your jungler. This simple play can result in some early leads for your team by getting wave priority then moving to help jungler at first scuttle crab or invading enemy jungle.

Once you hit level 6 Zilean becomes a powerful champion. You can now look for easy and clean tower dives (as long as your team are on the same page with Chronoshift). While on the other hand, the enemy team will feel dissuaded from wanting to dive you if Chronoshift is up. As well as making any skirmishes or team fights more favoured for your team due to Chronoshift reviving an ally for numbers advantages.
Roaming
Zilean is quite decent at roaming due to his Time Warp speed zooming around the map.

The only issue with roaming is you would be missing out on the important experience you would get consistently by staying in lane bot.

So you have to make sure you are only roaming at the correct times to maximise how much experience you are getting, otherwise you will fall behind and not be much of an impactful champion in fights without Chronoshift.

I would recommend walking together with your jungler, as Zilean is limited in what he can do solo, it's a lot easier to help jungler for a gank instead of going in solo. For example, you could Time Warp your jungler in with a Time Bomb on them, or engage the gank yourself if the jungler has no setup with Time Warp into Time Bomb stun.
Tips + Tricks
If you are looking to get vision control down in fog of war areas, I recommend always throwing a Time Bomb into unwarded bushes to give some temporary vision instead of facechecking.

When you are on your way back to lane, make sure to Time Warp speed up yourself and any allies so you get back faster. This is known as tempo, which is where you have a lead on movement to set up objectives.

Early game don't spam out double Time Bomb combos in lane unless you will get something valuable from it, such as burning enemy summoners or straight up resulting in some kills. It just costs way too much mana in general.

I recommend going for Time Warp into Time Bomb without using Rewind and a second Time Bomb, as the enemy will be either back off or use some key cooldowns, which during that window you can look again.

The amount of players I have coached who didn't know about self casting abilities is crazy. Press your ALT button while casting abilities to self cast. Very useful for Time Warp and Chronoshift, is much quicker and smoother.

Don't be afraid to Flash Time Warp slow an enemy that is out of position to start a fight. While on the other hand you can Flash Chronoshift an ally if they are out of range.

In a messy team fight where everyone is piled up on top of each other it can be very hard to target the right ally with your abilities. This is where you can use your allies champion icons in the HUD, you can click on them with the ability you want to use and it will cast on them.

Time Bombs are not just for damage and CC, they can also be used as a zoning tool. You can throw them in choke points to zone enemies off, very nice for controlling objectives.

Keep checking the scoreboard and evaluating who is the MVP on your team you want to protect in fights, especially if they have a big shutdown you don't want the enemy to cash in.

You don't always have to use Chronoshift on your MVP ally, if they are positioned well in a fight and you know theres no chance of them dying, you can Chronoshift your front liners instead. Sometimes its better to revive a front liner with full HP so they can continue tanking the enemies!
Support Matchups
Alistar
EASY
X
HARD
Alistar is one of the easier engage matchups to deal with.

You have a short window to poke him and have control of lane level 1, but at level 2 onwards you have to respect him as the all-in combo can end badly for you. Especially if you have been pushing up during the level 1 poke, as he can Flash Pulverize and Headbutt you into their tower range.

Past level 6 Alistar may look to dive you, but if you have Chronoshift it is straightforward to counter as long as you are positioned away from your bot lane partner so you aren't both getting CC'd.
Amumu
EASY
X
HARD
Amumu is quite a tough matchup.

The amount of pressure Amumu has even from level 1 is scary, this being due to Bandage Toss having 2 charges, so level 1 engages can straight up kill you.

Past level 6 Amumu's engage lockdown is even stronger with Bandage Toss into Curse of the Sad Mummy into another Bandage Toss. I would recommend positioning further back so you avoid being hit by Curse of the Sad Mummy then you can save allies who get engaged on.

If you rush Mercury's Treads it will make this matchup 100x easier, as well as considering Mikael's Blessing for allies.
Ashe
EASY
X
HARD
Ashe is a weird matchup.

There's no real pressure in lane in my opinion, just some quite long cooldown poke from Volley.

Past level 6 can be a pain if you are caught out in a bad position and get hit by a long-range Enchanted Crystal Arrow, as the stun can last up to a maximum of 3.5 seconds, however if you see it beforehand it should be very easy to dodge with Time Warp.

Don't think Mercury's Treads are needed here, just get Mikael's Blessing and have an ally tank Enchanted Crystal Arrow.
Bard
EASY
X
HARD
Bard is an interestingly unique matchup.

As usual Bard will just go look for roams all the time, which is both good and bad for us, can stay in lane and scale up for free, but he will build leads for his team, so look to punish the solo enemy bot laner or try to match roams with Time Warp.

It is very hard to generalise and rate this matchup, as Bard is one of strangest and unique skill champions, especially with Tempered Fate, so depending on the player piloting him can make him look very op, or on the other hand very useless.
Blitzcrank
EASY
X
HARD
Blitzcrank is one of the scariest matchups.

Everyone knows the terror of being hooked by Rocket Grab. One of the strongest abilities in the game that can win a game even when behind.

Early game in lane is somewhat fine as long as you position behind minions vs Rocket Grab. But past level 6 if you ever get hooked at all you are most likely dead, or at least won't be able to save any allies due to Static Field silence and Power Fist knock up.
Brand
EASY
X
HARD
Brand is relatively easier to deal with than people think.

Key tip to know is to dodge his Pillar of Flame and Sear with Time Warp and you are avoiding his main damage and stun that could lead into a full combo for even more damage.

Sure you will get hit by Conflagration and Blaze guaranteed poke but Second Wind makes that a walk in the park. For Pyroclasm you just have to position away from your allies so it has little effect.
Braum
EASY
X
HARD
Braum is one of the easiest matchups in the game for sure.

You only have to watch out if Braum is paired with Lucian, as then it can become a lot more of a deadly kill lane if you ever get tagged by Winter's Bite.

The interaction between Unbreakable and Time Bomb is very favoured for Zilean as even though Braum blocks the Time Bomb stun, it will snap lock on to him and the AOE stun will still go through Unbreakable and hit enemies behind him.
Galio
EASY
X
HARD
Galio isn't seen that often in support.

His cooldowns are pretty long, with his main engage tool Shield of Durand being 18 seconds, and a crazy 200 seconds for Hero's Entrance, this is one reason why he isn't the greatest support pick.

You have to watch out for Justice Punch into Shield of Durand combo layered with a surprising amount of damage from Colossal Smash, Winds of War and Aftershock.

But as I said due to long cooldown of Shield of Durand you can punish during the downtime window.
Janna
EASY
X
HARD
Janna has become a lot easier to play vs.

Before her mini rework the Zephyr spam poke in lane was very annoying, but now that isn't a major issue anymore.

You have to watch out for Howling Gale with Glacial Augment as if you get hit that is a big window the enemy bot have to trade you hard.

Very punishable with Time Warp into Time Bomb stuns when Howling Gale is on cooldown.
Karma
EASY
X
HARD
Karma is an annoying enchanter-poke mage hybrid.

She has very strong pressure throughout the lane due to Inner Flame poke by itself, then adding in Mantra becomes very annoying.

One of the few champions that can contest or even win the wave priority vs Zilean.

Her roams are very similar to Zilean as well due to Inspire, however because it provides a shield it is much stronger in early fights compared to Time Warp.
Leona
EASY
X
HARD
Leona is a scary engager.

If a Leona ever gets on top of you it won't be very fun with her CC chain combo in whichever order she chooses.

I would recommend rushing Mercury's Treads to make it easier for you if you are the one getting engaged on.

Early on you have to avoid being hit by Zenith Blade which goes through minions, or a simple Flash Shield of Daybreak. So I would recommend keeping bot lane bushes warded and position safely back.
Lulu
EASY
X
HARD
Lulu is always a very common meta enchanter pick.

It's a good thing she is very easy to deal with and punish as Zilean.

She is very immobile and when Whimsy is on cooldown she can't do much at all if you Time Warp into Time Bomb stun her, very easy summoner spell force, into repeat and kill.

You have to focus her down first instead of letting her sit behind her ADC while she buffs them.
Lux
EASY
X
HARD
Lux is a somewhat annoying poke/burst mage.

In lane she will spam poke with Lucent Singularity which can be hard to dodge due to its big AOE.

I believe as long as you dodge her Light Binding with Time Warp then you will be fine, especially after 6 as being hit by a full combo usually results in an instant 100-0 until you have bought some HP items.
However even then you can just trade Chronoshift to survive her one shot, but that trade doesn't favour us as Final Spark has a ridiculously low cooldown.
Maokai
EASY
X
HARD
Maokai is quite a forgotten champion you don't see much.

I think he is quite underrated due to the strength of his kit as a whole and the build diversity he has. He can go either full engage tank mode, or Sapling Toss damage mode. Both are somewhat annoying to deal with.

You can abuse his Sapling Toss by baiting them to walk into the wave and explode, pushing the wave into you for safer farming. Bit ironic as Time Bomb can be used this way too.

At objectives you can use Time Bomb to see if there are any Sapling Tosses in there, then use Time Warp speed to bait them out to clear the area.
Morgana
EASY
X
HARD
Morgana hasn't been that great for a while.

She really only has her annoying 3 second Dark Binding and that is it. Dodge it with Time Warp and you are fine.

Her Black Shield is really weak due to nerfs over the years, so unless she maxes it first we will be fine as Time Bomb's base damage from 3 points will break it easily. It will still be able to block the Time Bomb stun though.

You can easily run from her Soul Shackles with Time Warp and Shurelya's Battlesong later on.
Nami
EASY
X
HARD
Nami is quite an annoying lane bully early on.

Her Ebb and Flow makes her very strong early in lane, you can't trade vs her that easily, have to stay out of range and hit Time Bombs but she can sustain it somewhat.

If paired with Lucian it instantly becomes a kill lane due to their synergy of insane burst damage.

Dodge Tidal Wave and Aqua Prison with Time Warp and you aren't in any threat of dying.

She is one the squishiest enchanters in the game, very easy to run down and kill with Time Warp slow into Time Bomb stuns.
Nautilus
EASY
X
HARD
Nautilus is a very common engager you will see.

He is very strong early on with solid base damage in his kit. If you get hit by Dredge Line you will usually die, but you can position safely behind minions.

After 6 if you ever get hit by his full combo you are fine if Chronoshift is up as you can trade ults and usually get out if your team is around.

If he ever tries to engage with Depth Charge first you can Time Warp speed whoever he targetted and they run far out of his range before Depth Charge finally knocks them up!
Pyke
EASY
X
HARD
Pyke is an exciting yin and yang matchup in my opinion.

He is very strong early game and wants to snowball, while Zilean is very weak early game and wants to scale.

Very skill dependent matchup, he can destroy you early if you are ever hooked, or get Phantom Undertow Flashed on.

His roams are incredibly strong, very difficult to match them. I would suggest focusing on hitting 6 before him to deny his snowballs.

After 6 you hard counter him though, by stopping Death from Below resetting with Chronoshift denies a huge amount of Pyke's power and he can't do much.
Rakan
EASY
X
HARD
Rakan is a cheeky hybrid of engage and enchanter.

I find Rakan very easy to deal with, he has some long cooldowns of Grand Entrance being 18 seconds and Battle Dance being 20 seconds.

Early on there isn't much pressure of dying unless paired with a Samira.

After 6 his engage becomes a lot stronger with The Quickness, but if you cast Time Warp slow on him he will suffer greatly, especially if he has already used his Battle Dance and Grand Entrance to engage.

Make sure to position away from allies so you are not caught in AOE CC chain if the enemy team has a good wombo combo follow up.
Rell
EASY
X
HARD
Rell is a relatively easy matchup.

If she is paired with an aggressive ADC such as Samira it becomes a very deadly kill lane.

Usually, you will be fine as Rell is a very awkward champion with the way she engages. As long as you dodge the Crash Down Ferromancy - Crash Down / Mount Up form you aren't in danger at all, then you can Time Warp slow and run her down for free kills. Just watch out for the Mount Up form of Ferromancy - Crash Down / Mount Up as it is point and click.

In team fights make sure you are positioned well away from your team so you don't get caught in the Ferromancy - Crash Down / Mount Up + Magnet Storm combo, allowing you to protect allies.
Renata Glasc
EASY
X
HARD
Renata Glasc is quite a simple matchup.

She wants to play vs melee champions who hard engage into her, which Zilean isn't.

You can Time Warp and Shurelya's Battlesong yourself and allies out of her slow moving Hostile Takeover. Even if you get hit your attacks do very little damage so it's fine.

Hard counter her Bailout as you can just Time Warp to slow down the "revived" enemy or speed up your allies to get away from them. As well as letting them kill an ally with Chronoshift wont count for Bailout's full revive.
Senna
EASY
X
HARD
Senna is a very annoying poke matchup.

One of the few matchups I would say Relic Shield is better to take. This being due to Senna's long range one-sided trades with Piercing Darkness giving her free Absolution stacks.

If you just play back and try not to interact with her it will be much better for you scaling wise, otherwise the Absolution stacks will become crazy to deal with later on.

Her Curse of the Black Mist can be annoying when you want to Time Warp slow her as you lose vision, as well as she gains movement speed so landing Time Bomb for vision is harder.
Seraphine
EASY
X
HARD
Seraphine is quite an easy matchup.

You can poke her down with Time Bombs as her Surround Sound has a long CD so her sustain isn't great.

With her other spells you can dodge with Time Warp speed, while ensuring you have good positioning so you aren't hit by Encore, so you can protect allies.

Mikael's Blessing is a solid choice vs Beat Drop and Encore.
Sona
EASY
X
HARD
Sona is the squishiest enchanter in the game.

She is extremely squishy and easy to blow up if you ever get Time Warp into Time Bomb combo off.

However, she packs a surprising amount of damage for an enchanter, which can be some serious poke as well as burst damage with her Hymn of Valor, especially the Power Chord version.

Watch out for Crescendo into Power Chord Hymn of Valor burst damage.

If you don't punish her hard early to mid game you will struggle as she is one of the few champions that can outscale Zilean.
Soraka
EASY
X
HARD
Soraka is the strongest healing enchanter.

However her heals are extremely weaker if she doesn't hit Starcall so make sure to dodge it with Time Warp and she will be extremely weaker, as Starcall is both her key poke and sustain ability.

You have to watch out for Equinox's silence which can block you from casting Chronoshift in fights.

Would recommend getting Chemtech Putrifier second item here, make sure you have Summon Aery to proc it easier.
Tahm Kench
EASY
X
HARD
Tahm Kench is a relatively one-sided matchup.

His rework did improve his threat level but it's still quite low as he is a defensive champion.

The only real threat is watching out for Abyssal Dive as there is a chance of being hit into getting Devoured and pulled away from your team.

As long as you have vision in bushes Abyssal Dive is a lot weaker, and you can bully him hard as that is his only engage and escape tool which can be cancelled by Time Bomb stuns.
Taric
EASY
X
HARD
Taric is an extremely free matchup.

He wants to be a counterpick vs hard engage and preferably melee champions, which Zilean isn't.

Very easy to punish him, perma slow with Time Warp and kite him, can never get in range for Dazzle unless he does the last second flash combo, but even then you are fine.

In team fights when Cosmic Radiance is used you can either run away or chase them with Time Warp and Shurelya's Battlesong until it has ended.
Thresh
EASY
X
HARD
Thresh is an extremely skill-dependent champion.

If the Thresh player is great then he becomes a lot harder to deal with.

He is very flexible with how he can play, pure peel defensive Dark Passage gameplay, or more aggressive Flay into Death Sentence.

Watch out for the usual level 2 Flash Flay Death Sentence combo. Other than that sit behind minions vs Death Sentence and you are fine.

His roams are pretty strong with a lot of playmaking abilities. You can try to match them or stay in lane for 6 and hard outscale.
Vel'Koz
EASY
X
HARD
Vel'Koz is a very annoying poke mage.

A good Vel'Koz player who understands his geometry skillshots are extremely painful to play vs. His Plasma Fission is a big mind game to dodge due to the awkward angles he can aim it.

As long as you dodge Tectonic Disruption with Time Warp you will be fine as that is the key ability for him to hit full combo.

Definitely take Second Wind or you will suffer slowly from the constant poke that will be tough to dodge when all are thrown at once. Relic Shield for sure too as you won't be in range to proc it.

He is immobile so if you can ever reach him it is easy to run down with Time Warp into Time Bomb stuns, however reaching a long range poke mage is hard...
Xerath
EASY
X
HARD
Xerath is a very similar to Vel'Koz, but even more annoying!

He has 4 skill shot abilities for you to dodge, so put on your fancy feet moves with Time Warp if you wish to have fun.

Hard to avoid his Eye of Destruction as it has a decent AOE and slows which can set up his other abilities.

Definitely take Second Wind or you will suffer slowly from the constant poke that will be tough to dodge when all are thrown at once. Relic Shield for sure too as you won't be in range to proc it.

He is immobile so if you can ever reach him it is easy to run down with Time Warp into Time Bomb stuns, however reaching a long range poke mage is hard...
Yuumi
EASY
X
HARD
Yuumi is one of the freest scaling lanes in the game.

However Yuumi is also one of the strongest scaling champions in the game, even more so when compared to Zilean due to how she works.

So because she outscales us, we have to look for roams as Yuumi can't match our speed moving around the map, unless they are sitting on their jungler, but even then they will be farming camps.
Zac
EASY
X
HARD
Zac is one of the rarest but also hardest matchups I have ever played.

A very underrated niche Support pick that destroys immobile champions such as Zilean, the points made here can apply for Jungle Zac as well.

He has crazy long range engage that is very hard to cancel with Time Bomb stuns due to how fast he travels.

The CC chain of Elastic Slingshot into Stretching Strikes and Let's Bounce! is pretty bonkers, makes it very hard to cast Chronoshift if you get caught in this chain, especially due to these abilities counting as knock ups/knock backs so tenacity doesn't help.
Zyra
EASY
X
HARD
Zyra is a pretty unique poke mage matchup.

She has standard skill shots being Deadly Spines and Grasping Roots to dodge with Time Warp, but they can also spawn plants if cast near seeds from Garden of Thorns and Rampant Growth.

Her plants can be annoying with the automatic poke they provide if you walk in range, as well as providing Zyra some solid zoning control at objectives, even more so when you add in Stranglethorns AOE knock up and buffing plants.

However, the plants can all be dealt with by sitting out of their range or using Time Bombs to stun and kill them.
Finally, we have reached the end of this guide. If you have made it all the way here then I thank you for joining me along this journey. I hope you enjoyed the guide and will be joining the Zilean club!

I will look to keep this guide updated every patch. However, I doubt much will change as Zilean is never directly nerfed or buffed.

If you have any questions or suggestions about the guide then feel free to leave a comment, I will try to respond to everything. If you want to support my guide, an upvote or +rep would be very much appreciated.

I would also like to give a huge shoutout to Katsandra for their incredible guides that have taught me how to use BBCode better, as well as personally helping fix a few code issues I had!

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide