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Zed Build Guide by Tactical Cookies

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Tactical Cookies

Zed: Balance Is A Lie- Top & Jungle Build Guide

Tactical Cookies Last updated on September 23, 2013
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Middle Lane
Ranked #20 in
Middle Lane
Win 49%
Get More Stats

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

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Hey Summoners! My name is Tactical Cookies, and welcome to my Zed guide. If you have questions about any builds, refer to the +Notes tab after purchase order title. If you have any concerns, tips, advice or comments, hit me up with a message, or leave a comment in the Discussion Section. Thanks, and let's get onto the guide!

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Introduction & Lore

Zed: The Master of Shadows

I prefer to play Zed Top, Mid, or Jungle. You may also be successful in Bot, but I don't recommend it.

Zed is the first ninja in 200 years to unlock the ancient, forbidden ways. He defied his clan and master, casting off the balance and discipline that had shackled him all his life. Zed now offers power to those who embrace knowledge of the shadows, and slays those who cling to ignorance.

An orphan, Zed was taken in and trained by a great ninja master. Only one other student appeared to be Zed's equal - the master's son, Shen. It seemed Zed could never win the favor of the master, as every match between the rivals ended in a draw. Frustrated and jealous, he sought an advantage. The young ninja ventured into a sealed part of the clan's temple, where he found an ornate, foreboding box. Sensing the dark knowledge within, Zed knew he should not open it, but he peered inside nonetheless. In an instant, shadows touched his mind, revealing techniques that had long been hidden. Now armed with a secret edge, he challenged Shen, and this time he defeated the master's son. He expected praise and recognition in his moment of victory, but somehow the master knew Zed had used forbidden ways, and banished him.

Humiliated, the young ninja wandered for years. His bitterness turned to ambition, and he began to train others in the style of the shadows. As his power grew, so did his circle of followers, but he knew that without the box, his technique would never be perfect. One day, Zed looked at his followers and saw that his students were now an army. He led them back to the temple to claim his prize. At the gates, he was surprised to find the old master waiting, receiving Zed and his disciples as if they were welcome guests. The old man laid his sword at Zed's feet, declaring that he had failed Zed as his master. By banishing his former student, the master had doomed Zed to the shadows, instead of leading him to the balanced path. The old man implored Zed to enter the temple, destroy the box, and lead his followers to balance. The dark ninja followed the master inside. Moments later, the assembled ninjas heard Zed cry out in pain. Mysteriously, he emerged unscathed, and threw the severed head of the master at Shen's feet. Screaming in rage, Zed commanded his followers to slaughter the master's students and seize the box.

That day, the old ninja order fell. Though many students died, some escaped thanks to Shen's heroic efforts. Now the temple is a dark training ground for the Order of the Shadow. Zed rules as the Order's master, and his edict is simple: perfect one's technique, and kill all ninjas who refuse to embrace the shadows.

''Balance is a lie - we are the true ninjas.''

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Pros & Cons


+ Very dangerous early game
+ Can get in and out of situations easily
+ Extremely effective at farming
+ Various playstyles

- Can be countered easily
- Can be "squishy"

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Here is a list of items I find essential for Zed to be successful. I'll also include some alternate items in case you need to adapt to the in-game situation.

Last Whisper
+40 AD & 35% armor penetration Essential
This seems almost built for Zed. Ignoring 35% of an enemies armor, and then piercing at least 15% of it with our runes, items, and masteries makes Zed a dangerous assassin. The extra AD on this item isn't astounding, but the more the merrier.

The Bloodthirster
+70 AD & 12% Life Steal Essential
Being the most important item for Zed, the life steal and extra damage is key for us early game. This will give us sustain, farm, and noticeable damage in lane, making us an opponent not to be messed with.

Infinity Edge
+75 AD & 25% crit. chance Essential
Although this isn't normally used by others, I love the Infinity Edge. The additional AD is great, and it also provides 25% critical strike chance, making you even more deadly with basic attacks. This can be replaced or combined with the Ravenous Hydra for maximum damage output.

Maw of Malmortius
+55 AD & 36 Magic Resist Situational
This item is very important (unless there is no opposing AP whatsoever) for Zed. The AD is, like always, great to have, but the Magic Resist will help you out a lot. Combined with the Guardian Angel, mages won't have **** on you.

Ionian Boots of Lucidity
+15% Cooldown Reduction Situational
Like all champions, your boot build can vary. I favor these boots, as they provide 15% cooldown reduction, allowing Zed to harass alot more frequently. Although, if you're facing a high AP team, I reccomend switching out for the Mercury's Treads, as they will be a lot more effective. As for enchantments, I normally roll with Alacrity, as it is much more practical for Zed than to have something like Homeguard.

The Black Cleaver
+55 AD, 250 Health, 10 Armor Pen. & 10% Cooldown Reduction Situational
Although this item may be widely exploited, we will be using because it is practical for Zed. Once again, we focus on AD, Armor Pen., and Cooldown Reduction. This item is the best of all worlds. The 250 additional health is just a bonus, as Zed can be squishy at times. I do not recommend stacking this item, as we will be much more deadly with other items.

Frozen Mallet
+30 AD & 700 Health Situational
If you intend to build Zed full on AD or Assasin, I don't recommend including this item in your build. I highly prefer this item because we can be, once again, rather squishy at times. The 700 health will build Zed into more of a Bruiser, and the UNIQUE Passive, Icy, will let us catch up to fleeing targets and deal a final blow.

Ravenous Hydra
+75 AD, 15 Health Regen., & 10% Lifesteal Situational
Combined with The Bloodthirster and an Infinity Edge, we will decimate any squishy target in seconds. Including this item in your build should grant you over 500 Attack Damage, no joke. Critical damage, provided by the Infinity Edge should deal over 1,000 Damage!!! Not to forget this items UNIQUE ACTIVE, we deal 100% of our current AD. This will come in handy in Team Fights, and when jungling.

Mercurial Scimitar
+60 AD & 45 Magic Resist Situational
Although I don't use this item often, it is key to some of our builds. This is a great item in difficult lanes, and when playing as a Bruiser. If you want maximum AD, Mercurial Scimitar may be the way to go.

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Attack Damage
Although 7.5 extra attack damage isn't ground breaking, it is recommended for all AD champions, as it will increase our farm rate and strengthen last hits. This can also be swapped with a Greater Quintessence of Armor if you want to be a little more tanky.

greater mark of armor penetrationArmor Penetration
Once again, I prefer armor penetration runes. When these runes are maxed out, you should be given at least +10 armor penetration (that's as much as a The Black Cleaver)!

Magic Resist
Although magic resist isn't vital on Zed, it may help at one point or another. If think that a Maw of Malmortius is enough magic resist, you can swap this out for a Greater Glyph of Armor, for more armor instead.

Since Zed can be squishy at certain points in the game, I reccomend building armor runes. They will give you about an additional 10 armor, which can be helpful early game.

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Abilities / Sequence

Contempt for the Weak
Deals percentage of bonus damage to targets below 50% health.
This passive may seem relatively weak or useless, but combining it with Executioner will deal noticeably large amounts of damage, up to 15% extra damage! This effect only occurs every few seconds, so don't heavily depend on it.

Razor Shuriken
Hurls a deadly shuriken in a chosen direction.
This ability is most likely your main source of damage. It can be very effective when combined with Living Shadow, and it is a great harass tool. I reccomend maxing this out first, by level 9. Razor Shuriken also deals 100% of your current AD, dealing massive amounts of damage.

Living Shadow
Casts a mimicking shadow, repeating all activated abilities in the duration.
This ability is Zed's main combo initiator, as it mimics any abilities casted by Zed, it can throw 2 Razor Shuriken or cast 2 Shadow Slash's simultaneously. Combining this with Death Mark will make Zed a deadly asasin, killing the enemy almost instantly. Zed can also teleport to his shadow by reactivating the ability, switching places with it. Living Shadow also grants up to 25% additional attack damage. I reccomend maxing this out last, as it is less of a priority.

Shadow Slash
Creates a burst of shadow, damging all nearby enemies.
This ability deals less damage than Razor Shuriken, but it is still very effective. It slows effected enemies by 40% for 1.5 seconds, and deals 80% of your current AD. Enemies hit by both Zed and his Living Shadow's ability take no extra damage, but are slowed by up to 60%. Shadow Slash has a very low cooldown, so it can be spammed constantly in fights. I've personally had a 1.5 second cooldown. When fleeing, you can cast your Living Shadow behind you, then when a pursuing enemy champion passes over it, cast your Shadow Slash, and you should have a clean escape.

Death Mark
Dashes to target enemy champion, dealing damage.
This is by far, one of my favorite ultys in the game. Death Mark is a solid gap closer, and it provides massive amounts of damage. It truly makes Zed an assassin. Combining this with Living Shadow lets you cast 3 of your abilities simultaneously! After 3 seconds, the targeted enemy is effected by a magic burst, dealing a percent of the damage dealt earlier in magic damage.

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

Since Razor Shuriken is our main source of damage and harass, we want to max this first; by about level 13. Although Living Shadow provides up to 25% additional attack damage, we want to max it out last, as it is less a priority than all of Zed's other abilities. Shadow Slash should be maxed out second, as it provides great damage and a minuscule cooldown. Finally, Death Mark, like all ultimate abilities, should be leveled whenever possible.

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Zed can be an excellent jungler. Although his build is typical, consisting of a Wriggle's Lantern and other AD items, he is still very effective. I recommend maxing out Shadow Slash immediately, unless ganking frequently (max out by level 9, giving a few points in Razor Shuriken).

I recommend following the general jungle route. Hit Blue Buff first, then move onto Wolves. At this point, we can either execute a gank on Top or Mid lane. If not, move onto Wraiths, then acquire Red Buff. Now, we have to make the most of our Red. If necessary, recall and pick up any items that build a Wriggle's Lantern, or purchase it itself, if possible. If you don't need to recall and you still have a few Health Potion's left, proceed to gank either Mid or Bot lane. From this point on, continue to invade the enemies' jungle, and gank often, as it will provide a cash flow. Buildwise, mainly use the specified items, but as you're jungling, items of preference are fine.

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Counters (Items & Champions)

I have devised a list of champions and items that Zed works well and is countered against. These are not always typical, however, as you may build this champion several ways.


Zed Counters

Zed Is Countered By