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Zed Build Guide by CatalystLoL

Assassin Catalyst's Midlane Series - Featuring Zed

Assassin Catalyst's Midlane Series - Featuring Zed

Updated on July 12, 2015
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League of Legends Build Guide Author CatalystLoL Build Guide By CatalystLoL 8 0 271,701 Views 12 Comments
8 0 271,701 Views 12 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author CatalystLoL Zed Build Guide By CatalystLoL Updated on July 12, 2015
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LoL Summoner Spell: Ignite


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
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Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
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Hello, my name is Peter 'Catalyst' Hansen and I'm a danish League of Legends player. I started playing League of Legends in Season 3 but didn't grind the ranked ladder until Season 4. I'm currently in Platinum and my primary role is midlane, although I can play every role in the game. I have also been scouting professional players' builds at tournaments and Solo Queue and applying it to my own play, which also gave me a much higher understanding of how to build and play the different champions correctly. I have always seen myself as an Assasin player because that's what I enjoy playing the most, but I'm equally good on Mages. I've decided to share my knowledge and what I've learned over the course of the years and bring you as many champion guides as possible. I will try and update all of my guides as often as possible and keep them up to date with the latest Patch. If you have any feedback on how I can improve my guides please feel free to PM me, I appreciate any kind of help.

If you have any questions that isn't related to this particular guide, please feel free to ask me on my Twitter.
I will answer any questions you have regarding champions, items, runes, masteries etc.
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Pros / Cons

Pros and Cons for Zed

  • Strong laning phase with high outplay potential
  • Scales well throughout the entire game
  • Great Blind Pick with very few counters
  • The ability to 1v1 almost any champion
  • Good waveclear and splitpushing
  • High mobility
  • Really fun to play

  • Vulnerable to crowd control
  • Ultimate gets countered by QSS/Zhonyas
  • Deals physical damage means he only fits into very few team comps
  • High skillcap, takes a long time to master
  • Weak in teamfights
  • Will be a lot less useful than other midlaners if he falls behind
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Greater Mark of Armor Penetration
9x Greater Mark of Armor Penetration

I take Armor Pen reds because Armor Penetration scales really well with Zed's Abilities. You could also take flat AD reds for a stronger early game but you won't notice much of a difference. Armor Pen gives you way more damage than AD reds when you pick up some items.

9x Greater Seal of Scaling Health

This is pretty standard for any midlaner. Midlane is a solo lane with a very short path from base to lane so you level up much faster than any other lane, Scaling Runes also outscales Flat Runes at a very early level. You can also use Scaling Armor Seals or Flat Armor Seals, depending on your matchup. If you're against an AD midlaner like Yasuo or Jayce I would recommend flat Armor, if the enemy team however has a Riven and a Vayne as an example, I would go with Scaling Armor.

6x Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction

Cooldown Reduction is extremely good on Zed. It allows him to farm safer with his Shurikens, he becomes less vulnerable to ganks when Living Shadow is on a shorter cooldown and your Ultimate will be up a lot more frequently.

3x Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

You could go with 9x CDR or 9x Scaling/Flat MR, but I believe Zed is strong enough in lane to survive against mages without full MR blues. I only take 9x MR when I'm against LeBlanc and I never take 9x CDR because I don't like to not have any MR at all.

3x Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

I take Attack Damage Quints for the early game damage. You could also take Armor Penetration Quints but you will be lacking a lot of damage in laning phase and it's easier to get pushed to your turret if you don't have any flat AD runes. AD Quints also gives you more value than Armor Pen when you compare them to AD/Armor Pen Marks.
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Summoner Spells

Ignite + Flash is the most common on Zed and it's also what I recommend. Ignite gives you kill potential on lane and Flash is good on any champion, it increases your outplay potential and can be used both offensive and defensive. Some people take Ignite + Barrier which could also work after the nerf to Death Mark (Patch 5.13: Zed has to wait 1 second before he can jump back to his original Shadow), but I still think Flash is superior. I run these Spells in 99% of my games.

Cleanse + Flash is very uncommon, but I honestly think it's worth taking Cleanse over Ignite if you're against a very CC heavy team comp. I prefer having Cleanse and Guardians Angel rather than Ignite + QSS, but it's personal preference. You don't take Cleanse for the lane matchup, but for the teamfights and skirmishes.

Teleport is a very underrated Summoner Spell on midlaners, and I also think it benefits Zed. It basically prevents you from falling behind in lane because you can always just recall and TP back to lane. Also Zed is extremely good with teleganks. You can either run it with Flash or Ignite, depending on your role. I usually don't play Zed in the toplane because I don't think it does much for the team, but if you want to play him top I would recommend Teleport + Ignite because he's very mobile, as long as you don't overextend without
Living Shadow you will be fine.
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(Passive) Contempt for the Weak

Whenever Zed autoattacks an enemy below 50% health, he deals an additional 6 / 8 / 10% of their maximum health as magic damage. The amount is increased at level 7 and at level 17. This effect cannot occur on the same target more than once every 10 seconds.

Zed's Passive is extremely strong and can surprise your opponent when you all-in. The damage is actually pretty high early on in the game and it also makes it easier to farm with.

(Q) Razor Shuriken

Active: Zed and his shadows throw their shurikens, each dealing 75 / 115 / 155 / 195 / 235 (100% bonus AD) physical damage to the first enemy they pass through and 45 / 69 / 93 / 117 / 141 (+60% bonus AD) physical damage to enemies thereafter.

Living Shadow: Additional shurikens striking the same enemy deal 50% damage and restore energy.

Razor Shuriken is Zed's main source of damage because it's a ranged ability and because it has a 100% AD scaling. It gives you really good poke and you can use it to farm safely or check brushes.

(W) Living Shadow

Passive: Zed's bonus attack damage is increased by 5 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 25%.

Active: Zed's shadow dashes forward, remaining in place for 4 seconds. Reactivating this ability will cause Zed to switch positions with this shadow.

Zed's shadow will mimic his basic abilities. If both strike the same target Zed regains 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40. Energy can only be restored once per mimicked ability.

Living Shadow is a really good mobility ability. It gives you a lot of outplay potential, it allows you to walljump, to catch up to people, to escape ganks, and to juke. It's passive is also why you can get away with relatively low damage items. It has a long cooldown so don't use it carelessly, save it for either a really good opportunity to land a combo or else keep it as an escape/catch tool. Living Shadow also mimicks your other abilities, so you have really long rage poke with Razor Shuriken. When your Living Shadow lands a Shadow Slash it slows the enemy target and can be really useful to stick to targets or to escape chases. You max this out last because the passive bonus % damage doesn't give you a lot of damage early on, but when you have 3 or 4 items, the passive starts to scale really well.

(E) Shadow Slash

Active: Zed and his shadows create a burst of shadow, dealing 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 / 180 (+80% bonus AD) physical damage to nearby enemies.

Zed's slash reduces the cooldown of Living Shadow by 1 second for each enemy struck. His shadows' slashes slow enemies by 20 / 25 / 30 / 35 / 40% for 1.5 seconds.

Living Shadow: Overlapping Shadow Slashes striking the same enemy deal no additional damage but will incur an increased slow of 30 / 37.5 / 45 / 52.5 / 60% and restore energy.

Shadow Slash is a really good close combat damage ability. It has a very short cooldown and when it's used with Living Shadow it slows your target. You max this out second because it's your second source of damage.

(R) Death Mark

Active: Zed becomes untargetable and dashes to target enemy champion. Upon arrival, he marks the target for death and spawns a living shadow at his starting position. This shadow lasts 6 seconds and mimics Zed's abilities. After 1 second Zed can reactivate Death Mark, causing him to switch positions with this shadow.

After 3 seconds, the mark will detonate, dealing physical damage equal to 100% of Zed's attack damage plus 20 / 35 / 50% of damage dealt of all magic and physical damage dealt to the target by Zed and his shadows while the mark was active.

Death Mark is one of the coolest ultimates in the game, and it's what makes him such a strong assasin and duelist. With Living Shadow you can have up to 3 Shadows with the possibility to land a tripple Shuriken on a single target. The shadow that is left behind also adds to your juking and outplay potential. A spinning Shuriken will appear above your target if the Death Mark is gonna kill them. Death Mark is unfortunately countered
by Zhonya's Hourglass and Quicksilver Sash as well as Kayle's ultimate Intervention.
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Before I start talking about why I'm buying the items that I do, I wanna point out that there isn't any specific purchase order that you HAVE to follow, it all depends on how the game is being played out.

Bilgewater Cutlass: This is the best first item you can get on Zed. It gives you kill potential, sustain, and makes you safer from ganks. Always get this before Brutalizer unless you're against someone like Diana who you need to poke.

The Brutalizer: This has always been a core item on Zed, but if you lose lane really hard against an AP mid then skip Brutalizer and go straight for the Hexdrinker. Late game I would recommend selling.

Youmuu's Ghostblade: This is IMO the strongest item on Zed. I was one of the first Zed players to start using it in S4 although I stole the idea from s Zed main, and it took a really long time for other people to discover the strength of this item. Today it's a core item on Zed and many other AD champions. I actually like to rush it as my first complete item, it was something that I saw xPeke and Alex Ich do in S5, I tried it and I really like it a lot more than rushing BotRK. It gives you more mobility and better 1v1 and it's an extremely cheap item so you can get it a lot faster than BotRK.

Blade of the Ruined King: BotRK is and has always been a core item on Zed. I see some people have moved away from it after the nerf to Zed's base Attack Speed per level, but I think people are overreacting and I still think it's a must-have item on Zed. It gives you the Attack Speed you need to duel bruisers, the passive to make melt tanks, and the active to assassinate carries.

Last Whisper: Core item on Zed and should be bought right after your first 1 or 2 complete items. Only if you get really fed and the enemy team has no tank (which rarely happens) then you can get it as a 4th item. It's the most cost effecient damage item in the game and should always be bought.

Infinity Edge: Extremely expensive item but definitely worth it. Combined with BotRK and Ghostblade it will be impossible for any carries to 1v1 you, you can literally 3-shot AD Carries with 80% Attack Speed while still having all of your abilities up. IE gives a really high flat damage which Zed really needs when you look at how little AD the rest of his core items gives him. This item synergises really well with BotRK and Ghostblade and should always be bought with those two items. If you don't get a Ghostblade then don't get IE, get something else like a Ravenous Hydra or Black Cleaver.

Guardian Angel: Really important item on Zed, especially after the nerf to Death Mark you're very likely to die when you ult someone. Also you will be focused a lot less with GA so you can easier go for the backline.
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I prefer calculated aggression when I play Zed. Be super aggressive at Level 1 and shove the wave. Throw your Shuriken at your opponent whenever it's off cooldown, there's no point in saving it and you won't take minion aggro. Just keep your distance from his abilities' range, walk back when he's moving towards you and he will take minion aggro/lose cs. You can always use your Shuriken to last hit with. At level 2, only focus on last hitting creeps and harassing your opponent with a double Shuriken. I like to throw my Shadow to the side of the minions and only try to land the mimicked Shuriken, it will deal more damage than if you land the real Shuriken through minions and it's harder to dodge. Keep in mind that Zed has one of the longest range in the game at level 2, so make sure you keep your distance from your enemy, there's no point in letting him harass you for free when you can poke him from a long distance. When you only last hit and only use your Shuriken to poke or last hit caster minions, the waves will push towards your turret. This makes you safe from ganks and your opponent vulnerable for your all-in, and this should also be around the time where you hit level 3 which is where Zed reaches his first powerspike. If you land a full combo with a W -> E -> Q he will get below 50% hp and you can follow up by jumping to your Shadow and proc your Passive. This is where you can often get First Blood and start to snowball.

A good tip to land your skillshots is to only throw them when the enemy is trying to last hit a minion. Keep track of your own minion wave and then throw your combo. At level 2-3 don't try and force trades. this is one of the biggest mistakes I see bad Zed players do. Save your Living Shadow for a good opportunity to land a full combo and then just go back to last hitting or go and put down some vision, after you land a full combo they very rarely try to fight back so it gives you some seconds of breathing room.

When you hit Level 6 is where you get your biggest powerspike. Zed has probably the biggest outplay potential of any midlane champion in the game, here's an example of his all-in potential:

In the mid game Zed has really good waveclear and mobility. You should look to shove the midlane and roam. Try and leave the kills to your other carries as Zed is not all that useful in the late game for other than splitpushing.

In late game you wanna try and avoid teamfights. Zed does very little to win full on 5v5's. His cooldowns are too long to have big enough of an impact as the damage is reduced the more targets it hits, and if you jump in for their backline you will usually just die. Zed is a squishy assassin with high single target damage. Try and splitpush as much as possible, your ability to 1v1 anyone on the enemy team will force them to send more than 1 player after you, in which case Zed is so mobile you can usually always get out safe. If they ignore your splitpushing and take a 5v4 fight, you can objectives extremely fast and still show up for the clean-up which is what Zed does really well. If a teamfight is forced and you're not in a position to splitpush, you should only try and be there for the cleanup. Try and confuse the enemy, make them focus you and dance around them with your shadows, this usually buys time for your team to get them low and that is where you go all-in. Another thing you can also do is to AA the frontline and sneak in some poke on the backline with your Shadow, but I'm not a big fan of this because it leaves you without an escape, and if the enemy has a CC champion peeling for their carry then you're caught in a really bad situation. Just try and be as confusing as possible and then just take the clean-up duty when the opportunity is there. Here's a good example:

If you watched the video you might have noticed that I saved my abilties until the last second. If you have ever watched any pro player on Zed you will notice the same thing. The key to master Zed is to know your limits and I can't stress enough how important it is to be patient with your abilties. Don't try and force a 1v1 just because Death Mark is off cooldown, often you need to use it defensively like I did in the video above, same goes for Living Shadow. I did this mistake myself when I started playing the champion, I tried to always ult whoever I saw because everyone said how "Zed wins every duel". This is definitely not true, there are many champions in the game that can 1v1 Zed and beat him (he is good at solokilling other carries, not bruisers), also as I already mentioned, Zed is very weak when fighting alone against more than 1 champion because he is build around single target damage, so remember to never ult a single target without having vision in the area. Being patient with Zed is not always easy and it takes a lot of time to get used to, but when you learn it you will become so much better, patience is extremely important on Zed if you wanna make those sweet, sweet outplays and carry your team to victory.
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Thank you for reading my Champion Guide for Zed, I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions regarding this guide, please leave a comment and I will try and answer, or you can ask me on my Twitter, I am usually more active on there.

All of my Champion Guides are an on-going process and I will keep updating them as the game changes. I will continue to add things like matchups, strategies, and new playstyles.

If you have any feedback for the guide, please let me know.
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League of Legends Build Guide Author CatalystLoL
CatalystLoL Zed Guide
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Catalyst's Midlane Series - Featuring Zed

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