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Zilean Build Guide by Mooninites

Middle Miracle Worker in the Mid Lane

Middle Miracle Worker in the Mid Lane

Updated on July 9, 2016
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Mooninites Build Guide By Mooninites 9,089 Views 1 Comments
9,089 Views 1 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Mooninites Zilean Build Guide By Mooninites Updated on July 9, 2016
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LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Teleport


Threats & Synergies

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


Hello and welcome to my mid lane Zilean guide. Zilean is a fairly flexible champion being seen in both the Mid and Support roles; as of recently he has gained a good deal of popularity as a mid lane mage in Korea and the NA LCS. The purpose of this guide is to provide a detailed account of the best way to play Zilean in the mid lane.

Let's examine when you would want to pick Zilean, what he is good at, and what Zilean does poorly.


Great Wave Clear
Great counter-initiation
Superior Utility
Very few bad match-ups
Zilean is an excellent team fight champion and a great addition to any team looking to protect a damage threat. His Chronoshift and double Time Bomb can completely change a fight.


Low sustained damage
Slow early game
Mediocre siege potential
Vulnerable to CC lockdown
One of the greatest strengths of Zilean is that he doesn't have many glaring weaknesses, or if he does they can be shored up quite easily. However, he does have some issues. As a heavy utility mage, he is very reliant on competent teammates and being relatively close. A good ultimate or double-bomb can win a fight, but he can't single-handily carry a game.

When to pick Zilean


  • You have a hypercarry
  • You need waveclear
  • You need utility
  • Enemy team is a pick comp


  • You are main damage threat
  • You need initiation
  • You have too much AP

While Zilean is a great pick in the mid lane, he isn't a miracle worker nor is he a hard carry. He can't outright win you the game and he relies heavily on his teammates. Zilean is great at facilitating his teammates; either to dive the backline without fear of dying, or to avoid being dove. He is one of the most flexible mages in the mid lane and can almost always find a home in any comp. However, one of the drawbacks of running such a heavy utility mage is that you need your damage to come from other lanes. If your running a low damage ADC (i.e. Ashe) and/or a meaty tank in the top lane (i.e. Shen), Zilean will not be a good pick. Much of Zilean's power as a champion, comes from enhancing other champions.
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Runes & Masteries

Before we get started on this section a couple of things to go over. First and foremost, runes are intended to facilitate your early gameplay. Generally speaking, runes should be there to help you lane better and by that nature they are highly subjective. What works for me, may not work for you and vice versa. With that being said, there are certainly incorrect choices for runes, but do not be mislead to believe that my rune choices are the only choices or even the best. The nature of choosing a rune page is highly subjective.

The same is also true for masteries to a degree. I change my masteries every single game to cater to what I need that game; while there are certainly right and wrong choices, you may find yourself wanting Deathfire Touch over Thunderlord's Decree . The point of this disclaimer is to say that you have the flexibility to deviate away from what is recommended in this guide as far as runes and masteries. At the end of the day, they are their to better facilitate your champion, but the core functionality and role of Zilean remains the same.


Greater Mark of Magic Penetration (+0.87 Magic Penetration). Generally the best option for all mages, there aren't any better options for Zilean mid lane.

Greater Seal of Scaling Health (+1.33 health/level {24 HP @ lvl 18}). A good option for a variety of mid laners. Scaling health let's you deal with both AD and AP mid laners and they are as efficient as flat health by level 6. Given that you will likely take Teleport this almost guarantees you can reach level 6 even if you need to back early without losing too much. Alternatives include: Greater Seal of Armor and Greater Seal of Health

Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power (+0.17 Ability Power/level {3.06 AP @ lvl 18}). My personal choice for glyphs, gives a steady mid-late game power spike. They eclipse Greater Glyph of Ability Power at level 8. Alternatives include: Greater Glyph of Ability Power, Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Ability Power (+4.95 Ability Power). The best option for Zilean, there aren't really any other options unless you want to go defensive with flat health or magic resist quints.


Most of these masteries should be pretty straight forward but I will explain a bit more in depth to avoid any confusion. These are the highest winrate masteries for Zilean in the mid lane and my personal choice for masteries.

Why not Deathfire Touch?

Deathfire Touch isn't a bad option on Zilean, but I find Thunderlord's Decree to be much more reliable and useful throughout most of the game. Landing a double bomb almost guarantees you will proc Thunderlord's and the damage is comparable or better until the late game.

Why Meditation over Merciless?

Zilean is a very mana-hungry champion and you want to increase both your mana pool and your mana regen for drawn out sieges or fights. Meditation is generally better because your role is to be a utility mage and facilitate your teammates more than it is to be a serious damage threat. Besides that, the chances that your bomb will be necessary to execute are pretty low. Additionally, because Athene's Unholy Grail has been changed and is no longer a viable option for Zilean, this facilitates your mana pool since it's harder to do with items.

Why Intelligence over Precision?

As with Meditation your goal as Zilean is to facilitate your team, you do that by pumping out as many spells as possible. Precision gives you more damage, but not by a noticeable enough amount to make it worthwhile. This build already gets to 40% CDR and there are a lot of items that give CDR now so that makes getting to 45% CDR pretty easy.
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Abilities & Summoner Spells

Summoner Spells

- Blink a short distance forward (5 minute CD). Flash is essential on pretty much every champion, nothing to see here.

- After 4.5 second channel, your champion teleports to an allied unit (5 minute CD). Teleport is in my opinion the best option paired with flash. It gets you back to lane or can turn around ganks. Zilean TP's aren't exactly the best, but there aren't many better options for summoner's.

Alternatives to Teleport

- Removes all disables and reduces disables for a brief period of time (3 minute 30 sec CD). Cleanse is a great alternative to Teleport, especially if you're afraid of the enemy locking you down before you can use your ultimate. The main problem with this summoner is using it effectively which can be very difficult. Additionally, it won't prevent you from getting burst 100 to 0 so you have to be mindful of that.

- Reduces the targets damage, attack speed, and movement speed for 2.5 seconds (3 minute 30 sec CD). Exhaust is a fairly niche summoner and it should only be run if you don't feel like Teleport will be effective and you don't need Cleanse or Barrier. Having an additional Exhaust on your team can be crucial to winning team fights and shutting down an additional enemy threat.

- Shields your champion for 2 seconds (3 minute CD). Barrier is a great summoner against burst champions. There are some champions like LeBlanc or Talon that pose a legitimate threat to kill you before you can even react, against those champions you might want to run Barrier.


Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Time in a Bottle Zilean passively stores XP, when he has collected enough he can give an allied champion a level. This is one of the more bizarre passives and most people seem confused how it works. You can only use this passive when you have enough XP to give your ally a level and when you're both out of combat. This is why sometimes it may appear that your ability to give a level has gone away even if they haven't gained a level. It can be extremely frustrating to use.

Time Bomb Zilean throws a bomb at target location. After 3 seconds the bomb explodes; landing 2 bombs on a target will stun the target. Time Bomb is your bread and butter as Zilean. It is the only damaging ability you have and as a result it is one of the single most powerful base spells in the game. It has high base damages and a strong ratio. The bomb explodes after 3 seconds, and the stun lasts 1.5 seconds.

Rewind Zilean reduces Time Warp and Time Bomb's cooldowns by 10 seconds. Rewind is what allows Zilean to land double bombs. It can be an effective tool for escaping or chasing down enemies as well. Just don't forget to use your abilities before Time Wind; also note it does not reduce the CD of Chronoshift anymore.

Time Warp Zilean slows an enemy champion or speeds up an allied champion for 2.5 seconds. Time Warp is a huge mobility spell. At rank 5 it slows or increases champion's speed by 99%, however remember, the lowest a champions base movement speed can go is 110 movespeed. This spell is crucial to preventing your carries from being dove or allowing your bruisers to dive the enemy backline.

Chronoshift Zilean targets an allied champion or himself; any lethal damage over the next 5 seconds causes the champion to revive. Probably Zilean's most iconomic spell, his ultimate is what makes him so obnoxious to deal with and a great pick for protecting your hypercarry. You can also use this to force unfavorable trades for your enemy, wearing them down until they try and all in you and in the process take too much damage to stay.

Skill order should be fairly straight forward; Time Bomb is Zilean's only damaging ability and we get more per point than any other ability. Rewind is maxed second because the cooldown is lowered dramatically betweens rank 1 and rank 5, ultimately this means we can get more Time Bombs out. Time Warp is maxed last simply because the other spells are more important. However, don't be fooled, Time Warp is an incredibly strong ability a 99% speed increase or slow is massive especially for your bruisers to dive. Obviously put a point in Chronoshift every opportunity you get.
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Itemization on Zilean is fairly flexible; there are a number of good items and you don't have the item slots to build them all. This guide has highlighted an example build, but this is in no way binding; just like masteries, your itemization needs will likely change depending on your team and the enemy team. Below is a list of several items; all of them are viable on Zilean, some are better than others. If you don't see an item on the list then it likely isn't very good or very niche.

Core Items

Rod of Ages is a fantastic item on Zilean it gives him a steady amount of HP, Mana, and AP. RoA is a fantastic item because the stats it gives are pretty much everything Zilean wants and it gives him a stable laning phase and strong mid game. You're generally going to want a big mana item like either Rod of Ages or Archangel's Staff.

Morellonomicon another great item on Zilean A solid amount of AP, mana, and CDR. This item was recently changed and has seen a huge boost because Lost Chapter is such a strong item in lane. Since Athene's Unholy Grail was changed and is no longer a viable item for Zilean, Morellonomicon has risen to take its place.

Rabadon's Deathcap is just the staple AP carry item. It gives a huge amount of flat AP which is great on Zilean. One of the reasons why flat AP is so good on Zilean is because of his ultimate, which isn't affected by other AP stats like spell penetration or MR shred. This is especially true because of the huge ratio's on Time Bomb and Chronoshift.

Situational Items

Archangel's Staff is an alternative to Rod of Ages however, I think it is quite greedy. The active on Seraph's Embrace is pretty nice, but generally you're trading off a large amount of health for a higher mana pool and more AP. It can be worth it, but I think the bulk from Rod of Ages is better and you can be easily punished for going Tear of the Goddess in lane as opposed to Catalyst of Aeons.

Void Staff is a strong item on Zilean but by no means necessary. This gives a strong amount of AP, but the Spell Penetration only affects your Time Bombs. This item isn't worth it if the enemy team isn't building Magic Resist or if you aren't reliant on your Time Bomb damage.

Zhonya's Hourglass A very strong item with one of the best actives in the game. Zhonya's now gives CDR which can make it harder to work in your build, but this is a great item if you need to prioritize your Chronoshift on an allied hypercarry and are still afraid of getting burst out.

Abyssal Scepter is a pretty strong item on Zilean. A solid amount of Ability Power and Magic Resist with a nice passive. Since it now gives CDR it is harder to work in your build, but should be a viable alternative to Zhonya's Hourglass if you don't need the armor or stasis effect. You might not always be in range to utilize the passive however.

Rylai's Crystal Scepter is a situational item in most respects. It has good stats for zilean; health, ability power, and a very nice slow. However, I generally find that this item is hard to work into your build. Since Time Bomb is an AoE spell so that means the 40% slow will only last for 1 second, but has the potential to hit multiple enemies. Rylai's Crystal Scepter is usually a good alternative to Void Staff.

Luden's Echo isn't really a great item on Zilean in my opinion. It gives a lot of flat AP, but the movement and the proc isn't as valuable on Zilean. Your Time Bombs should be able to adequately wave clear without the need for Luden's proc and generally there are just better items for Zilean.

Guardian Angel is a luxury item and a nice alternative to Zhonya's Hourglass. It gives you a lot more freedom to use Chronoshift on your allies as opposed to yourself and it is effective at dealing with huge burst potential or an assassin that can pop you before you have a chance to ult yourself or use Zhonya's Hourglass. GA makes Zilean even more obnoxious than he already is.


Ionian Boots of Lucidity is the best option for boots. Reduced summoner spell cooldowns and CDR is the best option. The only time you don't want to get these boots is if you are already capped out (40%/45%) on CDR.

Sorcerer's Shoes are generally the weaker alternative to Ionian Boots of Lucidity. The spell penetration is nice for Time Bomb, but as noted, Zilean relies much more on CDR, flat AP, and flat mana. Get these boots if you are already capped on CDR.
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This section aims to explain how to play Zilean at various points of the game, your role in team fights and lane, and a few tips and tricks on how to be a more effective Zilean player. Let's examine your role in game as Zilean:

Your Role

  • Effectively use your ultimate to save allies; especially carries
  • Shut down enemy threats with double Time Bomb
  • Use Time Warp to facilitate allies or catch enemies.
  • Wave clear with Time Bombs and keep lanes pushed

What Your Role is Not

  • You are not a hyper carry intended to 1v5 the enemy team
  • You are not the priority target for your ultimate (most of the time)
  • You are not an assassin
  • Keep lanes pushed, but you are not a split pusher

Early Game

Laning Phase: Levels 1-8

Zilean's early game is both underwhelming and underrated. Contrary to many people's beliefs, Zilean's early game is not entirely worthless nor are his abilities weak. Time Bomb has both one of the highest base damages and ratios in the game. However, you're likely not going to be getting first blood nor are you really a kill threat in the mid lane. Your job is to simply wave clear and try and prevent yourself from getting pushed in. Often this is done by using a Time Bomb on the caster wave of minions. With rank 3 Time Bomb or a bit of AP, a single bomb can clear the backline. Avoid using Rewind too often early game. Particularly during the early levels, before you build Lost Chapter or Catalyst of Aeons, it can be extremely taxing on your mana to use your double Time Bomb.

Mid Game

Roaming/Grouping Phase: Levels 9-14

The mid game is when Zilean starts to really ramp up. At this point in the game you should have your first major item completed (ideally Rod of Ages) and you should have nearly completed or completed your 2nd item already. If you're really ahead then you may have more items at this point. It is at this point in the game you should have a decent amount of AP, CDR, and Mana/Mana Regen. This is when you start becoming a major nuisance to the enemy team; Group up with team members to secure objectives, map control, and find pick off potentials. Zilean excels at closing the distance and locking down isolated members through Time Bomb and Time Warp. Using Time Warp on an ally can help initiation or on an enemy can set up crucial double bombs. You want to use the mid game to siege and knock down towers to open up the map where you can force objectives and get picks.

Late Game

Ending the Game: Levels 14-18

Late game is where Zilean really shines. Chronoshift is such a huge turning point in team fights that it makes Zilean so difficult for enemy teams to deal with. The late game is won and lost on the strength of your ultimate and your ability to land double Time Bomb. At this point in the game, most towers should be down and the map should fairly open. Zilean excels with an open map, he is able to find picks, force favorable engagements, disengage, and control the map very well through his zoning and high mobility. At this point in the game you will likely have a large mana pool, a high amount of ability power, and CDR capped (or near it), with these three things, Zilean is able to to ensure he has constant pressure on the map. At this point in the game it is paramount that your team has strong vision set up around the objectives you want to take (i.e. Elder Dragon and Baron) and if possible, strong vision denial. Checking the map blind with Zilean is not as disadvantageous as some other champions, but you always run the risk of getting CC locked and burst down before you can ult or not being able to react fast enough to ult an ally. Being able to force or disengage from fights has a lot to do with vision control which is why it is so important to Zilean's gameplay.

Possible Scenarios

Above is a possible scenario in which you may find yourself in. Sometimes you don't need to land double Time Bomb to have it effectively zone an enemy or enemy team. Notice in the picture above the enemy Viktor is given the choice of backing off from a potential baron play or walking into a double Time Bomb stun. This scenario is sometimes even more effective then landing double Time Bomb.

Above shows the radii of two Time Bombs. Notice how there are different layers of circles. Imagine an enemy standing in the middle of the bomb on the far right, because he has not crossed the threshold layer for the bomb on the left, he will not be stunned unless he walks into the inner layer. More of bomb layers below.

This image shows the different layers in which Zilean's Time Bomb functions. Obviously layer 0 is outside of the Time Bomb zone entirely and as a result any enemy units will not be damage by the Time Bomb when it detonates. Layer 1 indicates the range at which the Time Bomb will detonate; all enemy units within layer 1 will take damage, however they will not pick up the bomb. Layer 2 indicates the zone in which any unit that crosses through will be attached with the Time Bomb. Layer 3 is the less commonly known layer and it is the center of the bomb animation itself. However, it has a very unique interaction with the other layers of Time Bomb. Once a unit with Time Bomb attached to it passes through the outermost layer of Layer 3 with the outermost layer of Layer 2, the Time Bombs will detonate and stun any enemy units in layers 1,2, and 3.

This is another image that should demonstrate the layers concept to you. Notice how the enemy Viktor is within Layer 1 of the left Time Bomb while he has the right Time Bomb attached to him. While he will take damage from the left Time Bomb he will not be stunned by the detonation because Layer 2 of his bomb has not crossed the outermost Layer 3 of the other bomb.

I see a lot of new Zilean players use Time Warp to speed themselves up to land double Time Bomb, however if you notice in this instance, it is much better to use Time Warp to slow the enemy Viktor down, ensuring that you'll land the double bomb.
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Pro Play

The following section is for those players wishing to see the ways in which pro players play Zilean. Below will be a number of the most recent games Zilean has been played. These games will be exclusive to the NA LCS, EU LCS, LCK, or LPL. I'm sure the CBLOL and other regions have plenty of good Zilean players, but because they do not have English broadcasts, they will not be included in this guide. If you wish to see all of the most recent competitive games Zilean has been played in, check here. If you wish to see all of the most recent solo queue games that Zilean has been played in by pro players, check here. It is worth noting that I have been sure to only include competitive matches in which Zilean has been played mid. The Esportspedia and Probuild pages may contain games where Zilean is played as a support. It is also worth noting that these games have been chosen regardless of outcome or success. These games will be primarily listed with the most recent games at the top and older games near the bottom of the list. The archive section will be for all games which have been deemed outdated.

Pobelter - Immortals vs. Apex Game 2 - 2016 NA LCS Summer Split

Bjergsen - TSM vs. Phoenix1 - Game 1 - 2016 NA LCS Summer Split

Perkz - G2 vs. Fnatic Game 1 - 2016 EU LCS Summer Split

Fenix - Team Liquid vs. Cloud 9 - Game 1 - 2016 NA LCS Summer Split

Keane - Apex vs. CLG Game 3 - 2016 NA LCS Summer split

Bjergsen - TSM vs. CLG Game 1 - 2016 NA LCS Summer Split

Febiven - Fnatic vs. Vitality Game 2 - 2016 EU LCS Summer Split

Fly - KT Rolster vs.Longzhu Game 3 - 2016 LCK Summer Split

Faker - SKT T1 vs. CLG - 2016 MSI Finals

Faker - SKT T1 vs. Rox Tigers Game 1 - 2016 Spring LCK Playoffs

Faker - SKT T1 vs. KT Rolster Game 2 - 2016 Spring LCK Playoffs

Cloud 9 Hai's guide to Support Zilean - While this is a guide for support Zilean it has some nice tips for all Zilean players


Spoiler: Click to view
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This section will be updated to address any questions regarding Zilean posted in the comments.
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  • 7/9/2016 - Guide Released
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Thanks for reading my mid lane Zilean Guide! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed making it. As always, please feel free to leave your opinions and questions in the comment section. If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to leave a comment as well or message me. If you need to get in contact with me, my summoner name is Mooninites on the North American server or you can find me in the Mobafire Chatroom or Club room.

Special thanks to Fatelblade for helping me with this guide!

If you like this guide, stay tuned for my Cassiopeia guide which will be out soon!
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