Build Guide by RaNuD
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Probably like most of you, I've read on several forums: "ZOMGS Mal is so UP, really suks wow!"
Or something alike. Then I looked for him in the game, I noticed he's suposed to be "hard to play", according to Riot Games. Well, he is. Hence, amateurs will say he is under-powered (Screw your easy Master Yi or truly OP Ezreal...)
I also have to mention that if you dont like my build/tips, I recommend you read "How to raise a Voidling". There are very good tips there, and is where I learned Malzahar basics. Though, I pretend to go further than basics and if you are new to League of Legends, I'd say you better read his build than mine. As for those who are looking forward to kicking some serious butt with a real hard character, keep reading!
RUNES and MASTERIES
First, there is nothing such as a "perfect build" in this game. Period. Depending on the heroes your opponents pick, or their play style, you might be disapointed with your spells/runes/masteries. That being said, some choices are obviously good, and we'll tinker arround them. In our case, any cooldown reduction is MVP, then you want magic penetration and some resist stuff. Up to you, I am still testing all kind of rune/masteries selection myself. I might do, or do not post a final choice some day. Depends if I notice something especially "optimal", but I really think its more related to your play style (except for CoolDown, which you obviously will pick)
As for spells, I usually go Iginite/Ghost. Both are kind of obvious for Mal. Ghost lets you run away from combat with relative ease (which is necessary with your squishy hero), and also allows you to chase some low hp heroes (especially early on, later its often meant to run away). Ignite is there in order to get an easy first blood. You usually can score about 3 kills thanks to ignite within the first 15/20 minutes, which gives you enough gold to keep the pressure.
Instead of Ignite, Cripple would totally make sense, since it allows you not to waste a mastery point in Critical Damage. But since you lack mana in order to kill in the beginning I ragher pick Ignite and waste a point. Up to you.
As I wrote up there, there is no perfect build, but the best all-arround first pick is Mekki's Pendant. You want to level quicker than your opponents, which means laning longer. Your spells cost lots and you definately want mana regen. It is a strong pick against most opponents, but if you know you are facing squishy opponents and/or newbies, go for Amplifying Tome instead. Then, as soon as you get your early-kill, teleport back and get Kage's Luck Pick(you want it as early as possible so you generate more profit from it). Same idea if you went Mekki, but you get it a bit later. You then usually want to go for Fiendish Codex which grants you some Power/CoolDown in order to cast your ultimate for the kill often enough.
Now you have to judge what you need most. If your ennemies are very daring, you want your Sorcerer's Shoes ASAP. You generaly make ridiculous amounts of money then. You have to play smart though (and you allies too, they often tend to scrap your ambushes) At this point, there should be something like 2 top, solo mid an bot. You run betwen lanes and loot easy money with your powerful spells. (see strategy topic below)
If your ennemies are playing safe, or stick together too much, you'll need Rylai's Crystal Scepter instead, which's slow ability might give your team some kills (you often get assists at this point though). Wether you get Giant Belt or +40 ap Staff first is up to you, depending if they tend to hurt you too much. Once it is built, you then can finish either Death's Grasp or Nashor's Tooth. I tend to have better succes with Nashor, and you also keep Luck Pick longer. Grasp is often overkill, but if you're having trouble with some hi-hp character, you'll love to take away 33,5% Hp right of the start. You'll see in-game what you need.
Now again, you have to judge what you need most. If you're playing against Shen, Shaco, or any high normal damage hero, start building a Frozen Heart NOW. Otherwise, they will more or less rape you. If you dont want to finish it now, I often only get Glacial Shroud for decent armour and CoolDown, then go Zhonya's Ring.
Now, you still should have 1 or 2 item slots depending on what were your needs earlier. Again, which item you want depends on the situation :
-If you really still get your butt kicked, you might get Banshee's Veil, although I dont like the mana boost on it.
-Mercury Threads can save you against stun/slow-heavy team.
-If you cant seem to one-shot properly, get Void Staff. 70 AP (105 when you have Ring) and 40% penetration should be enough to wipe anyone again.
-Nashor and Crystal Scepter are the two high end items you want to complete first. (except maybe Sorcerer's Boots, which arent too expensive if you loot easy kills from them)
-Against a team which has, lets say, only one tank, you probably dont want to get Death's Grasp. It does a percentage, and isnt worth it on low-hp characters.
-Boots are way important, you really need to be able to jump someone before he falls back.
-Never forget you dont have to finish all items right away. I'm especially thinking of Grasp, Crystal Scepter and Frozen heart. You have empty slots in the beginning, use them. (Fiendish Codex and Glacial Shroud are pretty good on their own)
-I've tried Spell Vamp, with varying success. As I am writing, I think the tradeoff doesnt pay, I rather get better AP (will be explained below)
-Against spell-heavy team, get Guardian Angel Instead of Frozen. You'll hit somewhat weaker (coolDown really is important), but at least you'll live!
As you see, what I consider a "good build" is more of a flexible build pathern than a "do-this-s***-and-you'll-win". It is more about gameplay and being smart. This is what we'll see now, and what is the most important part of your "build".
In the lobby, ask for a nuker/stunner/slower or whathever to come top or botom with you. Annie's pretty cool and is often in games. Right off the start, pick Call of the void and cast it. Buy your Mekki and keep casting your spell until Voidling is ready to spawn. Home's mana regen is meant for that! Go to your lane an explore the bushes TOGETHER. How often do I see someone losing half his hp (or even dying) even before minions spawn. Both cast your spell on the weakest char, run him after him, and if he has 1/5 of his total hp, you generally can cast iginite for the kill. Remember your voidling will help a lot on this.
Then kill some creeps, dont be too agressive, and keep casting Void on ennemy hero. Takes a while to aim real well, but then people tend to be very predictable. Cast Malefic Vision on minions in order to keep pressure and mana. In the beginning, there's an IMPORTANT TRICK here. When a wave comes, dont cast Malefic too early. Land one or 2 hits on each melee creep, then cast malefic on the weakest. Else, your malefic just might go off before you kill. Same idea later with CannonDudes. Hit em a few times, then Malefic on melee guys. When it jumps to Cannon, it'll kill it and move to sorcerers. These are only small tips, but make a huge difference considering you'll go to town less often (more xp/money).
As soon as you have Nether Grasp, you can generally surprise them with Void/Malefic/Grasp/Ignite. If you dont feel comfortable, wait for a level and get Null Zone. Be aware you need to be almost full mana in order to cast all spells. Play your ennemies, lay traps with low hp allies, hide in the bushes and jump em. This is the way to go. Especially if you went for sorcerer's boots. One really easy trick is when you lane botom and see your mid guy's having trouble. Go in mid bushes and tell your guy to jump the ennemy when you do. Timing is crucial! If he moves too early, it just might not work. After each kill you generally can go to town and work on some gear. You have to wait for your cooldown anyway. Then lane a bit, and find some reckless opponent to jump in the back. Once your cooldown is over, have fun.
By now, your spell rotation should be Q/E/W/R, which kills most players if they're alone. If it wasnt enough, you go E again right after, and you can aim a buck-eye Q. Ignite when needed. Btw, if you have the Ignite mastery, you sometimes want to cast it right away, because of the 10 AP it gives you. It is risky though, be careful not to waste it.
Generaly speaking, this is the way to go. Keep trying to solo some heros left and right, guerilla-style. You generally want to to catch a solo-er, one-shot him in the back, push a bit with malefic vision, then teleport back to town for mana. This is why I wouldnt use spell vamp much. I go to town *anyway*, so i dont care about stealing 300 HP. Furthermore, I just might be dead if I went vamp. Why? Because you cannot afford not to one-shot your ennemy. You MUST kill him right away because your are too feeble.
Ok, team fights now. Most complaints about Malzahar state he is useless in team fight, and is only able to die while trying to cast ultimate. Because yes, the ultimate is a channeling spell, it also has low range and you indeed have few HP. Well dont cast it then! Think of it, you got Void, a massively damaging silencer, which can shut several ennemies for a few seconds. You can lay Null Zone, which is strong damage but above all, has an immense impact on people's mind. People fear it. You can also take off hp from decent range with malefic, or even better, destroy those annoying minions around (it then jumps to hero). And when the confrontation is almost over, jump someone with your ultimate. This is the way to go when your team wins the fight.
If you're losing, dont even bother thinking about your ulti. Run to your towers laying silencers and Voids in the way. They'll never catch your 80hp allies. Especially if you have Crystal Scepter, which slows targets down. Remember, silenced heroes cant cast some jump or stun. You'll love void if you can aim it well.
Malzahar and Veigar are probably the two most powerful support heroes availible, and should be played as such. Learn how to lay your spells correctly and you'll understand why they made Nether Grasp cleansable. Always keep in mind that even if you can one-shot pretty much anyone when well built, you are definately not Superman. Actaully, you are fragile. You go 1v1 or support. Thats it.
If I notice some enthusiasm toward this build I will post some more precise tips about how to use each ability. Feel free to question my choices or correct any possible mistake.