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Zilean Build Guide by Miracle Matter
[9.5] Toplane Splitpush Zilean (Diamond, 75% winrate)
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Runes: The Classic (Uncatchable)
+8 ability haste
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+8 ability haste
Threats & Synergies
Keep your distance in lane, poke cautiously. He annihilates you if he closes the gap, so never let him. The real test of skill is predicting his Ulti and timing your own. Never Ult so early that he can wait a few seconds, and let it expire *while* you're suppressed, on the way to your death. Conversely, never wait so long that he suppresses and begins pulling you before you can even cast the ability. The solution is to have a good feel for when you're in Lethal range (around 20% hp) and then ult instantly. That way, he simply pulls you in and forces your revive.
This matchup can be surprisingly difficult simply because Sion's raw damage is ridiculous. You do have ways to beat him, though. First: If he ever begins charging his Q, double-bomb him. It will stun him and interrupt the cast. Be wary; it will only go on a partial cooldown, and come up again within a few seconds. He can kill you if he Ults into you before you have some Zz'Rot Armor, so until then, harass from a safe distance. Second: Take the 'tanky alternative' build mentioned above, where you build Iceborne instead of Lucidities/Lich Bane. This also frees you up to take Boots of Swiftness or Merc Treads to reduce the efficacy of his slow if you'd like.
WARNING: NEVER WALK PAST THE FIRST BUSH AT LEVEL 1 until he reveals himself. Most Dariuses will sit in the bush and wait for you to walk forward. If you've avoided that cheese, congratulations: you win the lane. Zilean top hard-counters Darius. Just don't ever let him close enough to pull you, and you can consistently harass him (and deny his Ulti.) Don't be overconfident. Good Dariuses will rush Mercs or Swifties and Ghost/Flash you down repeatedly. Don't let him anywhere near you unless your double-bomb is up in order to stun him and escape.
This champ used to hard-counter Splitpush Zilean, until I switched to Resolve and incorporated Zz'Rot portal. Now he simply cannot burst you down, so if he *ever* jumps on you, you simply stun him, step away, then slow him while pelting him with auto-attacks for a few seconds. You can win most trades this way, but even so, always respect his early jump+THWACK harass. The burst can be astounding. Don't let him close enough to attack you unless you have your cooldowns read to stun him and disengage as soon as he does. Try to shove him in as much as possible once you have Tear+Lost Chapter. Then you can harass him under tower. Keep the river warded!
Absolute nightmare-mode. This champion is an abomination. You can swap to exhaust, use Seraph's shield, have armor, and still nearly get 1-shot by her if she ever lands a single stun. If you're forced to play versus an Irelia, you farm from safety, under your turret, and then you GROUP. NOT SPLITPUSH. You will out-contribute her in teamfights and win the game that way.
Aatrox is a significant thread during his level 1-4 lane bully phase. Make sure you aren't in danger if he hits level 6 before you -- that's a small window during which he can dive you with impunity. (After 6, you just use your ult to survive his dives, similar to Tryn.) Once you have Tear + Lost Chapter, you can start shoving him in/farming from afar, and once you have Zz'Rot, you can start going toe-to-toe with this guy fairly easily. Just beware: Good Aatroxes will use their E to dodge your double-bomb stun. Last tip: Always dodge his W Zone (if he lands the chain on you) by running *sideways* out of it, using your E - Movespeed boost. Late game, laugh at his "BEHOLD, IMMORTALITY" voice line as you resurrect from the dead every 33 seconds late-game.
One of the funnest, most exciting matchups for Splitpush Zilean. Who would have thought that Zilean vs. Riven 1v1 is a pure skill matchup? The key here is that the lane is EXTREMELY VOLATILE. If you get one kill early, you can force her to farm under tower while you harass her out of lane. If she gets one kill early, she can one-shot you during her stun/Q3 knockup without even giving you a chance to revive. Do not let her close to you. Poke with singular bombs. If she ever tries to all-in you, double-bomb yourself, then run away as she's stunned.
The only trick to beating Garen is saving your E - Slowdown ability until after he's used his Q (which cleanses slows.) Once he's used his Q to charge at you, you can just casually slow him and stun him or walk away. The problem, however, is that he can become so incredibly tenacity-heavy and tanky that he closes the gap later, or at least becomes far too tanky for you to kill on your own. In that sense, he's more of an annoyance than a difficult matchup. Feel free to group and out-teamfight him if he's too strong to split versus. Last Tip: NEVER let him silence you when you're low HP without casting your Ulti first, or else he/his team can potentially one-shot you during the silence, before you can cast your Ult. So respect his damage and keep him on a tight leash until you have Zz'Rot armor.
Should hard-counter Zilean. In reality, doesn't. Fioras struggle to understand the timing of your bombs, and critically, you can space the 1st and 2nd bombs in weird ways to make her mis-predict when the stun will land. You may not be able to 1v1 her later. If so, group and teamfight instead, and she'll never contribute as much as you.
Yasuo perfectly counters Zileans kit in almost every way. The only way you ever beat Yasuo is by him being so greedy that he throws you free kills during desperate tower dive attempts (which you simply revive from.) Even if so, you will never be able to 1v1 him because his Windwall vaporizes your entire combo. The only answer to Yasuo is to laneswap or farm under turret until you can group and out-teamfight him. Note: He is rated a '9' because you can at least farm under turret versus him. Only Irelia is a true 10, until she receives meaningful nerfs. She is Yasuo if his dash had 600 range and one-shot you.
This champion is just annoying. You will notice that, without any skill expression at all, never stunning you against a wall or landing Q2, she can still just point-and-click beat you up while shrugging off most of your damage. What's more, her W movement speed makes landing your stun very difficult. However, once you have Zz'Rot, you can 1v1 her fairly easily. Just respect her threat until then. Would recommend a Liandry's Torment versus her last.
GP is a fun skill matchup. When he runs forward to poke with Q, return with your own Q, and toss an auto in as well. You'll generally break even. Try to last-hit barrels before him if he's not very experienced. If he's a very good gangplank, you'll never get the chance, so just walk back and forth to bait him into blowing his barrels where he thinks you're walking (but just back out of it.) His Orange should make him counter you, but in reality it just helps him survive you a bit longer. Harass him constantly once you have mana. Use Ignite+Ult to dive him.
Get armor for Zz'Rot early. He can one-shot you during the stun otherwise, not allowing you to ulti. He will often feel like an impossible matchup for about 5 minutes, after which point he becomes useless compared to the overwhelming utility, damage and pressure you bring compared to him. If you aren't strong enough to 1v1 him, then just group and win the game via teamfighting, which is a skill of Zilean's he can *never* match.
He beats you 1v1 early because his Q movement speed boost makes landing bombs unreliable. And then one of two things happen. Either: You get Tear+Lost Chapter and shove him in permanently, because it's now the same as a midlane Zilean vs. Viktor except he's not maxing E (so his waveclear is much worse than yours), or You don't shove, and just annihilate him instantly with no recourse any time your jungler (or any ally) steps near him. You just casually slow->stun->slow him and watch them kill him. Revive anyone he ever tries to touch. Speed yourself out of his ulti. Etc. In other words, facing top Viktor as Zilean is trading your fun in exchange for his LP. He makes the lane extremely annoying, and in exchange, you get to win the game -- but only if you play it well. Don't feed him free Q harass early. Farm safely until you have some mana to waveclear/fight back.
Surprisingly difficult 1v1 matchup. Malphite has a kit that is, despite being armor-heavy, almost geared towards countering Zilean. This is because when you come close enough to E - Slow him and then bomb him, he often is close enough to Q you, not only harassing you but also stealing enough movespeed for him to outrun your Q radius. Furthermore, once Malphite builds Abyssal mask and Merc Treads, he has legitimate kill potential on you -- all he has to do is Q you a few times, then Ult you and pop you mid-air before you hit the ground, i.e. before you can Ulti. Even if you do Ulti before his Ulti hits, it may just result in him letting you live and running alongside you for 5 seconds to kill you after the ulti expires. Very annoying if he chooses to sit in a side-lane versus you this way, so force a teamfight instead. This allows you exploit the advantage of having forced their toplaner to stack MR, and suddenly they're incredibly vulnerable to your ADC (and AD threats from your mid/jungle.) Never stand close to your team or you'll simply get caught in his ult. Instead, stand back so that when he ults someone, you can revive them and then simply stun him inside your team while your team kills him.
Ah, Camille. She's another champions against whom Zilean helplessly loses 1v1, but completely wipes the floor with in teamfights. This is Splitpush Zilean's strength; he has no truly bad matchups (barring Irelia), only "1v1 matchups" or "Teamfight matchups." You just pick whichever you win in. In Camille's case, you lose the 1v1 HARD, so out-contribute her by kicking ass in teamfights.
Fairly easy, as long as you respect his Ulti all-in kill potential. Note that his wither lasts 5 seconds, and your E+Rewind+E lasts 2.5+2.5 = 5 seconds. Simply slow him, rewind instantly, then wait to chain the 2nd slow any time he tries withering you. That'll keep this doggy on a leash. Don't let him catch you with wither while your slow/stun are on cooldown, or he can maul you quickly with his Ult's Q resets. As long as you keep him at a distance, you'll beat him fairly easily. (You even out-scale him.)
Shen is annoyingly strong early, if he ever lands a taunt, but you always beat him afterwards. You can double-bomb stun him to cancel his Ulti, if you'd like, or otherwise let him warp into a teamfight across the map while you stay and casually backdoor their inhibitor with Zz'Rot+Demolish+Sheen/Lich Bane. He cannot keep up with your map control.
Play safe when his Ulti is up and yours isn't. Respect his early E+Auto crit harass. Other than that, this is a fairly easy matchup. Keep him on a leash via your E-Slow, stunning him whenever he tries to engage on you, poking him whenever he attempts to go for farm. If he ever dives you, just use your own ulti, and bomb him. You can actually leave a bomb on him to kill him after his ult wears off. Once you have armor from Zz'Rot, the matchup is laughably easy. You can literally slow Tryn and then stand there laughing. If you feel like he's still too threatening, feel free to go the tanky alternative build, with Iceborne after Archangel's Staff, and even Tabi's if you'd like.
You can poke him out of lane early. If he tries to ult you, instead of running, double-bomb stun him. This will prevent him from whacking it back at you in the first place, as the goat just runs right through him while he's stunned. Otherwise, use your E-Movespeed bonus to unpredictably dodge his Ulti.
When you first enter lane, stand back, and wait. He's stealthed somewhere. If he still hasn't shown himself, just use a bomb to detonate the first 3 melees when they get low. Once he's shown himself (hopefully not on top of you), the matchup begins. Teemo can be a difficult matchup for Zilean early on because his movespeed bonuses often offset your E - slow, leaving him *just barely* fast enough to run out of your Q hitbox radius. Because of this, you should respect the threat of quick, targeted harass he poses early on, until you have rank 2 E and at least a Tear of the Goddess. After that, shove the wave versus him, hard. He will quickly become irrelevant. Note that if he rushes Wit's End versus you, you cannot 1v1 him. He basically becomes a 'beat splitpush Zilean' machine, not good at teamfighting, squishy to AD threats, but deadly to you. However, this doesn't give him any AP, so your waveclear remains superior. Shove him in from safety!
Akali is an enigma right now. Sometimes feels bullshit, sometimes feels weak. Play cautiously and assess the matchup for yourself. The most important 2 things are this: One, don't get stunned by her R1 when you're low hp (thus dying before you can cast your R), and Two, make sure not to give her kills early. If you deny her an early snowball, you shouldn't have too many problems. If you can't handle her 1v1, as usual, simply hard-shove the lane versus her and force her to farm under tower, or otherwise group and out-contribute her in teamfights.
Kled is another matchup that you're quite strong again if you have some experience with it, but which can be very volatile and snowball out of your hands if not. Just do not let him E onto you with his Q. His damage is immense -- he can force your Ulti very easily. That said, you can use your E - Speed boost to sidestep his Ultimate engages, and you can harass him down from afar fairly easily as long as you are comfortable dodging his E Dash + Q combos. If he can't Q you, he can't do anything -- you just wail on him from afar and then kill him without ever letting him close enough to regenerate Skaarl. If you feel threatened, feel free to go the tanky alternative (Iceborne Gauntlet after Archangel's Staff) build, but it isn't necessary.
This ranking might be too high. Jayce is an interesting matchup, in the sense that he's almost worse than Irelia early (you cannot face him, and you aren't even safe to farm from afar due to his powerful poke) BUT if he ever attempts teamfighting, you completely wipe the floor with him. Thus, go the tanky alternative build (Iceborne Gauntlet after Archangel's Staff) and force him to come teamfight against you instead of splitpushing if possible. Any time he engages, simply slow and stun him while your team kills him. If he is sticking to teamfighting anyway, you might just prefer to backdoor his base while he's distracted. This is fine too - just avoid having to 1v1 him.
The first rule of League of Legends is 'don't chase Singed.' The second rule should be 'Don't send 3 people to chase Zilean around the opposite end of the map of Baron while his team takes it for free,' because that's how you win *a lot* of these games. You trade your life for a game-ending Baron Buff. Back on point -- Singed is countered by Zilean top. For the first few levels, you'll just want to prep the wave and catch as much cs under tower as possible. Once you have some mana from Tear and maybe Lost Chapter, you can pretty easily slow->stun him for massive harass anytime you'd like. You counter him because you can slow him massively, making him an easy pick for your teammates, as well as outrun him very easily -- slow him, stun him, and save the second E - slow for when the stun expires, slowing him for another 2.5 seconds. Do this any time he tries to Sticky goo and run after you. One thing to be wary of - Singeds will often become annoyed at the realization that you are outrunning THEM and then instantly, prematurely pop both Ghost and their Ultimate. You cannot outrun this early on, so if he catches you -- don't panic. Just keep running back towards your tower, and be ready to Ult yourself before the poison finishes you off. He's essentially traded his Ult + Summoner just to pop your Ulti, and you come out ahead in that exchange. Now get back to keeping him on a leash!
Please note: Pantheon starts as an 8, and becomes a 4 once you have some mana. During the early laning phase, he can harass you endlessly, and walk you down/kill you if he lands a stun on you. Do not attempt to slow+stun him early on as harass. This will drain all of your mana and he'll just heal through it. Instead, let him shove while you attempt to poke/last hit from afar. Once you have Tear and Lost Chapter, or at least Tear, you can start destroying him. Just slow+stun him anytime he attempts to come near you at all. You'll quickly find he can't come anywhere near you, can't weather all of your harass, and can't match your waveclear. So start shoving him under tower. Last tip: When he ults a location, double-bomb the center of his ulti radius. He will stun himself instantly upon landing, giving you a bit longer to walk away.
Quinn, like most ranged toplaners (aside from Zilean), has obnoxious early harass and can make it very difficult to farm. This matchup is very volatile -- if you are sloppy, you might just feed her endlessly, but if you play carefully, you beat her. The main thing to do is to concede some farm early and focus last-hitting. Just use singular bombs to poke her when she tries to come near. Once you have some mana, i.e. Tear or Tear and Lost Chapter, you can start slow+stunning her. Here's the key -- you need to aim the bombs slightly BETWEEN you and her. The reason why is because if you're in range to slow her, then she's in range to vault off of you. Your goal is to throw the double-bomb in such a way that, even if she 'dodges' it by vaulting forward onto you, she repels herself backwards directly into the double-bomb you threw where she was, stunning herself. Whenever she goes far away, get ready. She's probably trying to ult onto you and combo you. You need to keep your double-bomb cooldown up and ready to stun her when she comes in. Feel free to take the tanky alternative build (IBG or Frozen Heart after Archangel's) in this matchup.
This is a very challenging matchup. The problem here is two-fold: First, his speed boost will virtually always make him out-run your bombs' hitboxes, i.e. no stuns landing (even when he's slowed.) Second, he can ult onto you and one-shot you while you're stunned, before you even have a chance to respond with Ulti. My advice is to hide behind minions while poking with isolated Q's, then, once you have some mana, keep a safe distance and abuse your superior waveclear. You can't handle him in a full-on 1v1, but you can shove him under tower to avoid the 1v1 entirely. Don't get overconfident. If he tries to ult at you while your abilities are on cooldown, you're in trouble. Keep your E ready to speed to safety at a moment's notice. If you've successfully shoved him under tower, feel free to roam mid.
Ah, Yorick...Yorick is a strange matchup. He is rated highly (a 7) because if he ever lands a single E, then he can trap you in his wall and 100-0 you before you can break the wall and escape. You can Ulti to survive post-6, but you'll often die upon revival anyway. That said, he's a large, immobile target, so if you dodge his E/W, you can simply slow him and stun him, pelting him with bombs repeatedly. Highly recommend the Tanky Alternative build for this matchup. Just focus on dodging his skillshots and out-shoving him if possible. Don't leave your tower for long or you may lose it.
Another volatile matchup. He will frequently dash onto you and Q you for a hefty trade, then stealth away, or otherwise stealth onto you to do the trade. In either case, watch his movements closely, so you know when he's attempting to stealth onto you (i.e. he suddenly stands still) and when he's trying to get close enough to dash onto you. As long as you stay out of his range, or manage to stun him and auto him a few times after each of his trades onto you, then you'll come out ahead. Tanky alternative build can be valuable here to avoid getting 1-shot during his Ulti knockup before you can respond with your Ulti, but frankly, Zz'Rot's armor will usually be sufficient for that purpose. Other than that, he has very little options. He's basically a longer-ranged pantheon. Very sudden, annoying burst harass, but then he's a sitting duck, slow and immobile to your harass, and he can't match your waveclear, so. Shove him in, and when you have Ignite ready and he's low, bait him onto you. Double-bomb him under you, ult yourself, and Ignite him; he should die to your bombs+Ignite while you revive.
Treat Trundle like a Nasus. Harass him with single Q's from afar; Whenever he attempts to Pillar (e.g. Wither) you, slow him once and rewind immediately, and when the first slow is about to expire, cast the second slow. That slows him for 5 seconds straight, which should be enough time to get away from him. You can also slow him and double-bomb stun him if you aim well enough (remember, he'll be abnormally fast on his ice. Have to aim between him and yourself so he runs *into* the stun, rather than trying to land it directly on top of him.) He will build Tiamat, but you should be able to start shoving him in once you have Tear+Lost Chapter Regardless, and once you have some armor and your Ignite is up, you may be able to 1v1 him. Attempt to bait out his ulti and disengage, then all-in when he doesn't have his Ulti (so he's less tanky.)
Feel free to add me on NA, IGN: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH. That is 10 A's, 6 H's.
(Note that Miracle Matter is my Splitpush Zilean smurf, but AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH is my main account now) to discuss the build, or otherwise play together, in the meantime.
Hello! I am BazopBoomGumboChops. My Splitpush Zilean smurf is Miracle Matter.
I designed the Splitpush Zilean playstyle as a prototype in late 2015. Since then, I've obtained Diamond with variants of it 3 seasons in a row.
This is not a goofy, low-ELO-only trollbuild. This is designed to be a truly, monstrously strong playstyle, both in low and high ELOs.
I do not currently stream, but feel free to follow the stream (below) if you'd like to see the playstyle live when I begin!
When you double bomb a target low enough health to die to a single bomb's detonation, the target dies, instantly and simultaneously detonating the second bomb alongside it.
Technique two -- threading the nexus.
Highlight - 1v3 (Or two 1v2's?)
1) Zilean has many anti-melee tools, including reliable harass, slows/a stun for self-peel/escapes, and fantastic waveclear.
2) Zilean becomes incredibly fast, and thus hard to catch, mid-late game. (and can bring himself back to life.)
3) Zilean has such low cooldowns that he can proc Lich Bane off cooldown. (every 1.5s)
Abuse these to your advantage.
Zilean can harass, zone, and shove melee champions under tower early, and then transition into being an ultra-fast, surprisingly strong duelist, tower-shredding monster mid-late game.
Generally, you want to use Kleptomancy, which simply requires slipping in autos when possible after throwing bombs. Do not waste an excessive amount of mana early on just to proc Klepto. Try to just weave the autos in after throwing single bombs to poke with.
However, in some matchups, you won't be able to safely/reliably proc Klepto (i.e. vs Irelia), and then the value of swapping to TP and Exhaust become significant.
For these matchups, we must know how to use
Start with Ignite. Only eat biscuits when you run out of mana (or are at risk of dying.)
These two together give you enough mana to have kill threat before your first back.
All you need to do is keep poking with singular bombs (do not waste mana on rewind early) every time they walk forward to cs. Once they're low enough, Flash+Ignite for the kill.
Whether you get the first kill or not, your first swap becomes available at minute 6:00; swap to Teleport.
Recall, buy a Tear of the Goddess (+ either an amplifying tome or a cloth armor if your lane opponent is threatening), and teleport back to lane.
Now you want to cycle Summoner Spells as often as possible to re-obtain your Teleport swap as soon as possible. Here are your best swaps until then.
Exhaust is usually best. Hang onto it until you're engaged on, and simply nullify their burst. Also helps for setting up ganks.
Smite is an easy spell to swap to and use quickly. Don't feel bad about using it to secure a Scuttle Crab, but I generally only swap to it if I believe my jungler is going to come secure Rift Herald with me early.
You rarely need the mana sustain with this build, due to Biscuits + Archangel's Staff, but Clarity can be useful early if you want to stay longer to stack tear, get a kill, or shove a wave in. It's another summoner spell you can easily swap to and consume immediately to lower your Unsealed Spellbook cooldown.
Masterpiece by Kashuse
The first, most important thing to understand is to understand how to self-cast abilities.
The default keybind (and my own) is to hold down Alt while casting an ability. The importance of this CANNOT BE OVERSTATED -- playing without using self-casting on Splitpush Zilean is like playing a marksman without right-clicking.
By holding down Alt with your thumb, any casts of your E or R will automatically apply to yourself. In this way, you avoid ever having to point your mouse at yourself to ult yourself in emergencies -- simply press Alt + R -- and you can chain-speed yourself around the map comfortably, simply alternating Alt + E and W. Now you're cruising at a relaxing pace, without having to spasm your mouse between yourself and your opponent.
Come early-mid game, around the time you're finishing Archangel's Staff, you should be shoving your lane opponent under turret and harassing them when they farm until they're forced to recall. Now is your chance to safely proc Demolish. Never greed for the Demolish proc if the enemy is right there -- it'll often cost you your life. Wait until there are no enemies around.
Once you have your Sheen and Zz'Rot portal, you absolutely must begin asking your team to pressure X objective 'as 4' while you backdoor the OPPOSITE side of the map.
The most reliable way of doing this, in my experience, is by simply saying "Believe in me" or "Have faith in me." This wins over peoples' good side, and encourages them to group 4 on an objective and give you a chance to demonstrate the splitpushing, backdooring power of Zilean.
The key here is that you win no matter what.
Most toplaners will be unable to 1v1 you. As a result, they'll need to send at least 2+ people back to stop your splitpush, as if you were a Tryndamere. However, doing so will cos them the Baron (or Dragon) your team is taking as 4.
Alternatively, they may ignore you and send 5 to beat your team 5v4. This is fine. Let them lose; your job is to make their sacrifices worth it. Siege as hard as you can while the enemy team is distracted. Drop Zz'Rot outside of tower range, but hover it to MAKE SURE it's close enough to reach at least 2 objectives (i.e. the inner and inhib turret, or the inhib turret and the inhibitor itself.) Zz'Rot voidlings don't travel very far anymore, so check the range before placing it.
There will be games where you cannot 1v1 your opposing toplaner, or otherwise your team is feeding so horrendously that they need you to come save them. This is fine. Abandon the Splitpush and come team fight. Don't save your ulti for your carries -- use it to make aggressive plays on the enemy team. I often run in, slow and stun an enemy carry while their team blows me up. However, I revive myself while my team follows up on my stun, killing the enemy carry, and then I revive into a winning 5v4. Zilean is a monstrously effective teamfighter, even with Zz'Rot portal and Sheen. Don't assume that you have to splitpush just because you built for it -- be flexible when your team needs you.
Lastly, be a shotcaller. You aren't just a lone wolf splitpusher, you are the macro master of strategy. You are making openings for your team to take Barons and dragons. You are speeding up your jungler to get to the objective quickly. You are asking your support to keep the river warded. (Seriously, the river controls all key objectives and, really, the entire game. Stop warding your own jungle; ward the river, and watch your rank climb.)
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here, or otherwise add me (IGN: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH -- 10 A's, 6 H's) and tell me about your experience!
Thanks for reading -- now go demolish the ranks (and some towers) as Zilean!