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Zed Build Guide by Macbel

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Macbel

In-Depth Guide to having ACTUAL FUN as Zed! [120k Mastery]

Macbel Last updated on January 17, 2016
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Ability Sequence

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

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.


Natural Talent
Bounty Hunter
Battering Blows
Piercing Thoughts

Ferocity: 12

Dangerous Game

Cunning: 18

Tough Skin
Runic Armor
Veteran's Scars
Legendary Guardian

Resolve: 0

Threats to Zed with this build

Show all
Threat Champion Notes
Xerath Dodge his E and all in him. If you use your shadows right he won't hit a single spell.
Teemo As spellcaster Zed, his blind won't do much to you. Just try to all in and do as much damage as fast as you can.
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Hello and welcome to my Zed Guide. I am a Silver Zed main on NA, but that doesn't mean I can't teach you a thing or two. Zed is a full damage assassin who takes out the backline and disappears before anyone can focus him down. He is primarily played in the middle lane, but top lane Zed works just fine. He has many different playstyles and item paths, however this guide will be focused on 45% CDR Zed. Zed is has a very high skill-cap, but can be played at all levels. He is easy to learn and hard to master, as are many champions in this game. Zed is a great champion to pick up because of this and the fact that he will be viable in all skill areas. At high levels, Zed can be played smoothly and to great effect, sometimes single-handedly winning games for his team. Please enjoy my Zed guide and write any criticism you have in the comments below.

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So for Zed, you usually want to take thunderlords. Deathfire touch is "viable," but thunderlords is at least 4x better. It makes your W-E-Q combo in lane much more potent and catches your enemy off guard most of the time. There isn't much to say about these, they are pretty straightforward.

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Runes are also pretty basic. You can either go full armor pen or full ad. Lately I've been taking full AD, but it's really up to you. I would take armor pen if you're going top lane, because your opponents are going to be a bit tankier. You can go pretty much either one mid, but if you don't have a lot of runepages like me, you can just mix them.

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As for items, there are a lot of different ways you can go. I will go over the general idea of the different builds here:

Auto attack based:

The object of this build usually revolves around Blade of the Ruined King. You rely on doing consistent damage with your auto attacks, and is good against most opponents. This is the build most Zed players take.

Critical Strike Zed:

So again auto attacking is key with this build. It's a little different than the BotRK build for a few reasons. First, you don't build BotRK. You usually go triforce and IE and other crit items and is only good if you're really ahead. I would not recommend this build as it REALLY high risk high reward. If you throw, this build becomes mostly useless. I don't like this build because you can easily throw the game early by trying to go for super expensive items that don't always accomplish what you want. Sure, your auto attacks will do 99999 damage if they crit, but it's still RNG. I would stay away from this build.

Spellcaster Zed:

This build is where it starts to get cool. Instead of building BotRK, you just go pure AD. In doing this, your spells are going to absolutely destroy people. This build is good if you can consistently land your Q and take advantage of your shadows. You have to be fast with your combos with this build. This is probably my second favorite build as it falls into the build I normally use. I will talk more about this spellcasting style in the next build.

45% CDR Spellcaster Zed:

So this build is RIDICULOUS. In your first three items, you get 45% CDR. So thats Youmuu's, BC, and CDR boots. The intelligence mastery also gives you 5% CDR for a total of 45% CDR. This build is bonkers if you know how to play Zed effectively. In trying this build, losing lane happens very rarely, at least with the people I play with. Again, you have to be able to hit your Q with this build, and if you can't do it consistently, don't build this way. The key in this build is consistency. If you whiff all your abilities, you're donezo. With AA-based Zed, it doesn't really matter because you can keep autoing whoever you're fighting, however you can't really miss with this build. This build usually requires blues before big fights, as you run out of energy quite fast if you're casting all of your abilities so often. You can make some really awesome plays with this build because your W is up very often. I will take more about this in the abilities chapter.

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Passive: Contempt for the Weak

Zed's basic attacks against targets below 50% of their maximum health deal 6 / 8 / 10% of their maximum health as bonus magic damage.

Contempt for the Weak effect can only occur on the same target once every ten seconds.

Contempt for the Weak does WAY more damage than you think early game, and can help Zed with farming. It basically makes last hitting a joke because of how much damage it does throughout the game. If your opponent is sitting in lane at ~40% HP, you can almost always kill them with a W-E-Q combo + an auto + Ignite. Do not forget about this ability.

Q: Razor Shuriken

Zed throws his spinning blades forward, dealing 5 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 25% bonus AD as physical damage to the first enemy they pass through and 60% damage to enemies thereafter.

Razor Shuriken is the skill you want to max first. It does A LOT of damage to the first target, but with a damage reduction to further targets. You want to be REALLY good at landing this ability when playing not only spellcaster Zed, but just Zed in general. Throw this out to CS if you're getting harassed or poked out. If possible, always try to make your opponent the first target you hit with Razor Shuriken.

E: Shadow Slash

Zed spins his blades, dealing 60 / 90 / 120 / 150 / 180 (+ 80% Bonus AD) physical damage to nearby enemies and reducing Living Shadow's cooldown by 2 seconds for every enemy champion hit.

Shadow Slash is basically AoE damage around Zed and his shadows. It doesn't mess with your auto attack timer and can be cast while moving, meaning that you can use it as a pseudo auto attack reset. It's really good if you're running Trinity Force and you cast Shadow Slash right before you auto. It's a pretty basic ability. Nothing else to say really.

W: Living Shadow

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

ACTIVE: Zed's shadow dashes forward, remaining in place for 4 seconds. Reactivating Living Shadow causes Zed to blink to its location, swapping places with it. Zed's shadows mimic his basic abilities. If a mimicked ability strikes a target affected by its primary effect, Zed restores energy.

Living Shadow is Zed's "main" ability. He uses it for poking and juking and escaping and whatever else. It's a super cool ability, and can be used for many things. Don't be afraid to use it to poke, but don't use it too much as the jungler will take advantage of your cooldown and you will be left with no escape. It gets more complicated with its interactions. Its first interaction is with Zed's Living Shadow and Razor Shuriken:
Active shadows also throw a shuriken in the direction of the target point. Additional shuriken striking the same enemy deal 50% damage and restore energy.

The shadow also interacts with Shadow Slash:
Active shadows also slash, dealing physical damage to nearby enemies and Slow icon slowing them for 1.5 seconds. Mimicked slashes that hit targets affected by the primary slash enhance the Slow icon slow by 50% and restore energy, but deal no additional damage.

As you can see, Zed can do A LOT with just a simple shadow. As you might be able to tell, this ability can be used for the most basic things to the most advanced. However, beware that the blink range of Zed's Living Shadow is quite restrictive and you need to be fairly close to the shadow to be able to blink to it. Nonetheless, Living Shadow is really cool in the right hands and is the main tool in Zed's arsenal.

R: Death Mark

Zed becomes untargetable for 0.75 seconds and dashes behind the target enemy champion. Upon arrival, he marks them for death, can move through units for 3 seconds, and spawns a shadow at the cast location that lasts for 6 seconds. After 0.5 seconds, Death Mark can be reactivated to make Zed swap places with this shadow.
At the end of its duration, Death Mark triggers, dealing 100% AD + 30 / 40 / 50% of damage dealt to the target while they were marked.

Once again Death Mark has a multitude of uses. You can use it to dodge skillshots or just assassinate a squishy. It does 100% of your AD plus 50% of the damage you did to them (magical or physical) at it's max rank. With the spellcaster CDR Zed build you will have over 600 AD, so this is going to be destroying carries left and right. The blink range on Zed's R reactivation is very high and much farther than his Living Shadow, so don't be afraid to run away from it. The shadow from Death Mark also lasts MUCH longer than the shadow from your Living Shadow, so you can reactivate it late and confuse your opponents even more. The main thing to keep in mind is to not confuse yourself. You can have 3 damage sources using this ability. If you cast Death Mark and Living Shadow, you can cast 3 shurikens, and it does a massive amount of damage to squishy targets. This ability is also amazing for outplaying your enemies. If someone tries to towerdive you at low hp, just use Death Mark then and use Living Shadow to get away, then reactivate Death Mark to pop back to your ult's shadow. The next step would be to do damage to them, but if it's too much of a risk, just be happy with the escape. The whole point is to lead enemies away from your Death Mark's shadow and go back to it when they least expect it. You can use Death Mark to dodge most abilities in the game except DoT's, because you are becoming untargetable, not invincible.

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Farming with Zed is mindless. There is no excuse not to have 120 CS by just under 20 minutes. His Contempt for the Weak makes it so easy to farm. You just have to get the creep under half HP and auto attack it ($$$$$$). Because of this, Zed can get an early CS lead and dominate his opponent. Also, you can take wraiths (or birds, or whatever you call them) for an extra advantage. They are easy to get to for Zed because he can just Living Shadow over the wall and clear them and come back to lane with his Living Shadow back up. Also, Zed's Shadow Slash is a great farming tool. Again, it's almost like an auto attack reset so its obviously going to be useful whilst farming. Use it only if you have to to get the creep. Controlling the wave is also fairly easy as Zed because he has decent waveclear with his W-E-Q combo. He can also push a lane fast with just his autos and his Shadow Slash. Zed is over all A+ at farming, as long as you use your Contempt for the Weak correctly. Just learn the damage of Contempt for the Weak against a creep and you will have a hard time missing them.

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Zed's teamfighting isn't really the best because of a few main reasons. He can't really do anything if he gets CC'd and is too squishy to survive in a teamfight if he gets focused down. You need to play him very elusively and carefully or you're gonna get blown up. You can either flank and kill the backline or just dance around the team with your shadows. If you chose the latter option, make sure you know what you're doing or you are going to get caught. Going in head on is a really bad idea as if you can pulled, snared, stuned, knocked up, etc. you're done. Teamfighting is very hard on Zed because of your low survivability. I will give it a solid B.

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Pros / Cons


    High damage
    High mobility
    Lots of outplay potential
    Easy to learn
    Farming is really easy
    Build variety
    DESTROYS squishies


    Predictable (depends on your playstyle)
    Very hard to master
    Hard to play effectively
    Complicated kit
    Teamfighting is so-so
    Not so great against tanks (tank meta)
    Ult is super counterable (zhonyas, yi q, ekko ult, kayle ult, etc.)

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Ultimately, Zed is a great champion to pick up because he can be played at any level, and has a very complex (in a good way) kit. He isn't the best teamfighter, but can splitpush well and is a great dueler. He has trouble against tanks, but is a great assassin. He has so many different playstyles you are guaranteed to find one you like. He is, in my opinion, the most fun champion in the game, and I'd recommend picking him up if you're looking for an assassin. Thanks for reading my guide, and have a nice day. :)