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Zed Build Guide by YayaFTW

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League of Legends Build Guide Author YayaFTW

Shadow Prince Zed - Solo lanes domination.

YayaFTW Last updated on September 5, 2013
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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.



Offense: 21

Honor Guard

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

Hello Ladies and gentlemen. This is YayaFTW, and it's an honor for me to present you a guide to how to play Zed efficiently.

First of all, a little glimpse of some awesome Zed plays: (All credit goes to G4MEBoy01)

Now that you are all fired up after that amazing Zed juke, let's talk a bit about what he can do.

All about Zed


Q: Who is Zed? Zed is a very mobile ninja AD assassin who is more efficient during late game compared to other assassins. We could call him a late game assassin, If I may.

Q: Where can Zed play? Zed is strong in the top lane and mid lane. He can also jungle, but in my opinion, I believe he excels better as a top or mid laner. This is why this guide is focused on Top and Mid lane.

Q: Is Zed viable for ranked plays? Yes. Lately, Zed is very popular in the competitive scene due to his kit and abilities. If you are interested in maining him, I am sure that, with a bit of training, he will allow you to grind divisions in no time.

We're done with the introduction, ladies and gentlemen. Below, you will find detailed information on how to build and play Zed, and most importantly, have fun with him.

Nota Bene: This guide isn't 100% in-depth, as I take into consideration new-comers who check MobaFire guides in order to get familiarized with the champion and see whether they like him or not. If you are already a master Zed player, I still hope you will learn something new from this guide.

[+] Relies on Energy.
[+] Very High damage output.
[+] Gap closer/escape spell.
[+] Strong poke/harass.
[+] Very strong wave clear .
[+] Last-hit friendly.
[+] Can go Intargetable.
[+] Fun to play, high juke potential.

[-] Spells have high energy cost. (You can't spam spells)
[-] Relatively weak during level 1-5.
[-] Melee.
[-] Item dependant.

As you can see, Zed has more strenghts than weaknesses, which makes him a domimant champion in his tier.


The maximum you benefit from under the ideal conditions:

[+] 20 AD.
[+] 4 Atk.Speed
[+] 8% / 5 ArPen.
[+] 7% Increased damage.
[+] 138 HP
[+] 3.5 Armor and Magic Resist.

I prefer going 21/9, 21 being on the Offense Tree, to complement the high burst and damage output from Zed's kit, especially Executioner which synergizes very well with Contempt for the Weak and Death Mark.

I saw some Zed players putting 4 points on Sorcery for less CD on (W) Living Shadow, but I believe it's not worth it compared to 4% Attack speed from Fury , which helps with last-hitting and gives a slightly faster AA animation.

The maximum you can benefit from under the ideal conditions:

[+] 17 AD.
[+] 8% ArPen.
[+] 3% Atk.speed.
[+] 138 (+4 Regen)HP
[+] 3.5 Armor and Magic Resist.
[+] 15% Tenacity.
[+] 4% Increased max HP
[+] 3% + 2 + (3 Basic Attack) Reduced damage taken.

The few situations where I find myself going 9/21, 21 being on the Defense Tree, is when I know that I will have a hard time farming/winning the lane. If I notice that I got countered during champion select, or If my opponent will handle me just by stacking HP and Armor, as it's better to go 9/21 and "kill him slowly", than going 21/9 and end up dying just because I am squishy enough to be killed by his high base damage.


Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

  • Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage: I prefer flat AD over ArPen or AD/lvl because it makes up for the weak early phase Zed goes through in lane, by allowing easier farming/wave-clearing and enough damage output for Zed to stand for himself in trades.
  • Greater Seal of Armor: The only option concerning seals in my opinion. Mandatory against AD Top laners.
  • Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Helps mitigate the magic damage in teamfights and in lane. You can replace them for AD if you feel like you don't need them, but I strongly don't advise you to.
  • greater mark of armor penetration: Zed isn't like regular AD Caster/assassins like Riven who benefit more from pure AD stacking. Mathematically proven, Zed would clearly benefit more from ArPen than from AD for that early raw damage onto champions.

  • Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage: I prefer flat AD over ArPen or AD/lvl because it makes up for the weak early phase Zed goes through in lane, by allowing easier farming/wave-clearing and enough damage output for Zed to stand for himself in trades.
  • Greater Seal of Armor: The only option concerning seals in my opinion. Mandatory against AD Top laners.
  • Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Helps mitigate the magic damage in teamfights and in lane. You can replace them for AD if you feel like you don't need them, but I strongly don't advise you to.
  • Greater Mark of Attack Damage: I used to use these runes because my playstyle is often based on shoving the lane and make my opponent miss cs while I poke him under his tower (risky because of enemy jungle ganks, I know). So for more lane control instead of raw damage, use these marks.

  • Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: This setup works particularly well in the mid lane, because of the enhanced roam potential aswell as skillshot dodging. I wouldn't advise it in the top lane though because most tier 1 top laners have some kind of slow/stun/gap closing spell that would make MS quints relatively useless.
  • Greater Seal of Armor: The only option concerning seals in my opinion. Mandatory against AD Top laners.
  • Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: Helps mitigate the magic damage in teamfights and in lane. You can replace them for AD if you feel like you don't need them, but I strongly don't advise you to.
  • Greater Mark of Attack Damage: I used to use these runes because my playstyle is often based on shoving the lane and make my opponent miss cs while I poke him under his tower (risky because of enemy jungle ganks, I know). So for more lane control instead of raw damage, use these marks.

Flash: Mandatory on Zed in my opinion. This is your only get-out-of-jail card if you get caught while Living Shadow is on cooldown. It also helps securing kills and juking around. I highly recommend it.

Ignite: A great spell to pick while playing Zed since it gives that extra damage output that synergizes greatly with Death Mark, and also helps securing kills under tower. I highly recommend it aswell.

Teleport: You will most likely want to get this when you're not playing with randoms. However, if you are confident in your shot calls and carrying abilities, pick this to help other lanes snowball in solo queue.

Contempt for The Weak: This is one of the most dangerous passives in the game, since people often don't take it into consideration. It basically gives your AA a small burst damage after you drop the opponent below 50% health, which often surprises them as they never expect that much damage from a single AA that early in the game.

Tips and Tricks
  • Try to land an AA every 10 seconds when they're below 50% Health to maximise it's effectiveness. Don't take unnecessary risks while doing so though.
  • Rely on this passive to last hit effectively.

Razor Shuriken: This spell is great for poking and harassing aswell as clearing the caster minions that are not withing your reach during the lane phase. Bear in mind that it's a skillshot that is not so easy to land without having it's damage reduced by going through a creep.

Tips and Tricks
  • This spell is very energy hungry. Use it moderatly or you'll find yourself out of energy in crucial situations.
  • It is important to try and land it without having it go through a creep or the damage will be greatly reduced.
  • Unlike other skillshots, this spell is easier to land from very close to the opponent since there often won't be any creep to reduce it's damage during trades.

Living Shadow: This is your gap closing and escape spell. This contributes greatly to what Zed excels into such as wave clearing and juking aswell as poking and harassing.

Tips and Tricks
  • If you don't have vision of their jungler or mid/top laner, or an idea of their whereabouts, DO NOT use this spell to poke/harass or farm as it will make you vulnerable to all kind of ganks, unless you have warded the key locations.
  • Use this spell effectively to juke and dodge all kind of skillshots. (Example in the video below)
  • Combine this spell with Flash and Death Mark to catch low hp squishy carries off-guard.

Shadow Slash: Similar to Akali's Crescent Slash, it's an AoE slash that excels at wave clearing and is on a relatively low cooldown. Used with Living Shadow it allows you to slow the enemies within the slash range, aswell as cast the slash from a short range, which is very useful at shoving the lane and reliably poke without being afraid to miss.

Tips and Tricks
  • Use this spell to shove lanes and farm succesfully, aswell as poke and harass when used with Living Shadow.
  • This spell reduces the cooldown of Living Shadow by 1 second for every enemy struck. Keep this in mind.
  • This spell is on low cooldown but has high energy cost. Don't cast it carelessly.

Death Mark: This ultimate is the reason behind those sick Zed jukes or those enemy carries getting obliterated in 3 seconds without them realizing what just happened. It's similar to Vladimir's Hemoplague sort of, but with the advantage that it makes you intargetable during the cast time.

Tips and Tricks

(Passive) (Q) (W) (E) (R)

To poke:

(W) - (Q) : Regular poke, a bit hard to land and moderate damage.

(W) - (E) - (Q) - (E) : Strong poke if the enemy decides to stay near the shadow after the first (E), otherwise you'd zone him or make him lose CS.

To trade/retaliate:

(W) - (E) - (Q) - (W) - AA - (E) - Walk away from retaliation : This combo is pretty risky and dangerous if the opponent decides to go all in on you, or if the enemy excels at retaliating, like Riven or Renekton. Use it wisely as it lets you deal a huge amount of damage but puts you in risk aswell.

Go melee - (E) - (Q) - AA - (E) - (W) to the back - (W): Safest trade as it lets you do your combo and quickly go back to avoid retaliation. The only danger is when you're walking towards the enemy. Often, they'll underestimate you and try to trade but you'll be out of their range before they know it.

To go all-in and juke on the way back: (Note: Hard to execute)

(R) - (W) - (Q) - (E) - Ignite - Blade of the Ruined King - AA - (E) - [(W) or (R) - (R) or (W)] (the last two casts can let you dodge up to 2 skillshots and make it to Top 5 jukes on YouTube easily) : Use this to completely obliterate a single enemy, like this:

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

> > >
Actually, there are 2 ways to play Zed in lane: Either you max (E) first for a better wave clear, more reliable poke, but weak harass. Or max (Q) first for high damage poke/harass that can be dodged, but weaker wave clear.

There's also the alternative to max (W) second for more AD and less CD on (W), but I'm not very fond of it as It hurts my combo damage output from level 9-13.

Depending on the situation in lane or your preferences, max spells accordinly. Otherwise just max (E) first as it is your safest bet.

Item Sequence

Mercury's Treads

The Bloodthirster

Blade of the Ruined King

The Black Cleaver

Last Whisper

Warmog's Armor

A Key Item for Zed as it gives him a lot of AD aswell as sustain. You'll find yourself buying it almost every game.

This item gives you HP, AD, CDR and ArPen, 4 elemental stats for Zed. A mix of survivability and raw damage in one item.

This item works on Zed mainly because of its active that greatly boosts the damage from the mark of Death Mark. I am sure many of you are thinking that there's no reason to get this if we get The Bloodthirster, but in fact, Zed is a late game assassin so the more AD/burst he gets, the more likely he will do his job.

Get this to melt through that pesky Randuin's Omen or Aegis of the Legion for example. Also gives a decent amount of AD

My favourite survivability item on Zed. Gives tons of HP that prevents you from getting bursted down late game. Get this earlier if you were in trouble during lane phase.

CC is one of the assassin's hardest counters. Get this to mitigate some of it, or if you're being focused by it.

These are all alternative survivability items to Warmog's Armor. Depending on the situation, you might want to adjust your purchases accordinly. ( Guardian Angel to draw the focus away from you, Randuin's Omen if their AD Carry/bruiser is out of control, and Locket of the Iron Solari if you have to be in the front lines.

These are all alternative offensive Items that only work in certain situations. Ravenous Hydra if you got really fed, and Maw of Malmortius/ Mercurial Scimitar if the enemy AP Carry is out of control or if that pesky Malzahar is a problem for you.

  1. Choose your starting items from the cheat sheet according to the enemy opponent you will be facing.

  2. You are relatively weak from level 1 to 5. Be careful and keep an eye on the minimap, focus on farm and poke when possible.

  3. After level 6, If you see an opening where you can win the trade or get the kill, make sure you know where their jungler is, and go in smartly and not recklessly.

  4. Before level 6, wait for your jungle before trying anything as some solo top champs like Renekton or mid-laners like Ahri have some sort of CC that might turn the tables on you.

  5. Know when you should freeze the lane, shove the lane, or zone the opponent. Zed excels in all three so be confident and play smart.

Common lane match-ups for Zed and explanations:

Difficulty: Hard
  • Singed will wreck you after level 6, unless you totally crush him pre-6.
  • Irelia has a lot of sustain, true damage and hard CC plus gap closer. Direct counter.
  • Garen can't be poked out of lane, and his silence destroys your combo.
  • Elise can rappel and dodge your full combo after you ult. Strong poker with sustain aswell.
  • Lee Sin can keep up with your dashes, and kick you away when you go all in on him.
  • Riven if good can retaliate to every trade/all-in you do. Can't be poked out of lane.
  • Renekton's ult counters yours, has hard CC and sustain, aswell as a gap closer.
  • Jayce will out trade you is most case-scenarios. You need jungler pressure.
  • Rengar if good will abuse the bush and max E first, then W, and get CDR items to handle you.

Difficulty: Medium
  • Jarvan IV's kit is effective against you, but you can escape his ult easily with (W).
  • Jax needs his stun to win trades, otherwise just retaliate if he jumps without stun.
  • Kayle's ult counters yours and ranged poke can hinder you hard. Be careful with your plays.
  • Udyr has the same damage output as you, but better sustain. Keep poking him 24/7.
  • Yorick's sustain/poke is annoying, but you can win an all-in easily.
  • Xin Zhao if good can be a problem for you. Otherwise save your W for his E.
  • Kha'Zix's has strong poke and moderate sustain, but you can all-in him easily early game.
  • Katarina if good can outplay you real hard. Otherwise ult when she ults and it's done.
  • Akali's shroud can stop you from doing your combo after you ult. Buy Vision Wards for when she goes invisible then wreck her after ult.

Difficulty: Easy
  • Nidalee She can do nothing but heal your poke. Force her oom. You eat her in all-ins.
  • Malphite can never out-trade you early, just be agressive on him and force him oom.
  • Olaf's strongest threat is his true damage. Force him oom while poking him. Easy lane.
  • Shen can get really tanky but he can't do much to you either. You'll be comfortable.
  • Teemo can be an annoying little brat but he has no escape from your ult follow-up.
  • Rumble has strong lane phase, but you can just focus on farm and outscale him late.
  • Vladimir can pool your ultimate, but other than that he can't win trades at all.
  • Cho'Gath's spells can be outplayed so hard with shadows. Play smart and you're on.
  • Gangplank's poke can be heavy sometimes. Trade with him when he uses his Q to farm and don't get baited into ulting him when he's low because of the famous Elixir of Fortitude + W.

  1. Your role is to kill the enemy carries or the squishies. So when possible, if you have an opening or feel the right moment, go in, blow one of their carries and get out before they can retaliate.

  2. Do not go in recklessly as you will get instagibbed before you reach the carries.

  3. Sometimes, if the enemy is being carried by a single hyper carry champ (like Tristana), it's better for the team if you go all in and blow up their fed carry even if you die in the process. Your team will be able to clean up without being threatened anymore.

  4. Choose your targets wisely. Do not die for nothing. If you have to die, make sure you've done your job before doing so and that your team will be able to clean up.

  5. Know when to split-push, and when to be with your team. Teamfights are not the only key to win the game. If you can get a tower or two while one of your teammate got caught or ganked, you'll be able to put a higher pressure and punish the enem for his plays.

Champions Zed synergizes very well with:

  • Thresh can get him out with lantern after he goes all-in on the enemy carry.
  • Kayle can give him an extra 2 seconds to get the enemy carry.
  • Lulu's speed boost, shield and ult allows him to go deep enough to reach the carries.
  • Shen's ult on a deep in the enemy lines Zedinto Shadow Dash secures kills.
  • Maokai's intiation with Twisted Advance and his ult can follow up with him in the deeps
  • Xin Zhao's E into ult isolates the enemy carry for him.
  • Hecarim's ult disrupts the whole enemy team and allows Zed a clean engage on carries.
  • Vladimir's ult synergizes perfectly with his ult.
  • Mordekaiser ults the enemy AD Carry and Zed pops him up real fast to win the games.

This is it ! I hope you had a fun time reading my guide, and that you found it instructive. i am looking forward to your feedback, please point my mistakes and discusss with me my flaws. I will do my best to fix them asap. After all, I am doing this for you, not for me :)

Special thanks to: Jhoijhoi (as usual, without her more than half of Mobafire guides wouldn't exist).

Bonus clip for those master Zed players who probably just scrolled down like the wind, hoping they find something interesting :P Well, here you go:

Yup, you can teleport with Shen with your ult when he uses his. You didn't know that didn't you ;)


21/04 - Guide created
22/04 - Updated runes and situational items and fixed some typos in the code.
28/04 - Rolled in alternatives in runes and masteries. Expanded lane phase section. Added synergy paragraph in teamfight section. (Thanks Meiyjhe and salhibichr93).