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Zed Build Guide by ParadoX911

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League of Legends Build Guide Author ParadoX911

Zed - Let Them Fear Their Shadow

ParadoX911 Last updated on November 19, 2012
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Middle Lane
Ranked #22 in
Middle Lane
Win 49%
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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

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Welcome Summoners!

This is my very first guide at Mobafire. Until this time I have only read guides and fallowed them, but now when I found another build on champion which benefits on him, I wanted to share my playstyle and build to LoL public, because it's awarding. I played with Zed couple of times at start and I really thought that he's pretty underpowered until about playing 20 - 30 games with him, I found perfect build which really fits to my playstyle. The reason was that he required a lot of skill and I didn't really feel that Zed fits on current meta. Every top countered me, as jungler ganks were terrible and the only thing what I was doing was feeding. After practicing more and more I really started to enjoy playing with him and crushing enemies. So I hope this guide will improve your playstyle or my recommended build will make you achieve kills without dying.

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Pros / Cons


+ Very mobile
+ Your shadows will rip carries apart
+ People usually ignore your shadows
+ Ult will ensure his death
+ Free flash + 4 second ward
+ Great pusher
+ No mana
+ Has great slow

- Squishy
- Weak against bruisers without proper items and skill
- Sometimes you can get confused with your own shadows
- Requires skill
- Has energy which can be drained quickly
- Killed Shen's master
- Doesn't gank as good as Talon

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Summoner Spells

It's a great Summoner Spell which combined with Death Mark will kill enemy for sure.
Even if you do have free flash spell Living Shadow, this Summoner Spell spell can secure kill or help you escape enemy when your Living Shadow is on cooldown.
Take when jungling to make jungling much faster.

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Offense Tree

Summoner's Wrath : Other Tier 1 skills are useless on Zed. Small AD buff while Ignite is on CD won't hurt.
Brute Force : Good AD buff mostly in early game.
Alacrity : Zed doesn't need AS so much, but it unlocks Weapon Expertise .
Weapon Expertise : More ArPen = more damage to players
Deadliness : To increase ability damage it requires more AD
Havoc : With Living Shadow passive these additional percents of damage can do a trick
Sunder : Ask yourself - do you really want let enemy champion live?
Executioner : I guess not!

Defensive Tree

Hardiness : Better sustain in top lane and jungle in early game.
Resistance : Same idea only versus magic dealer.
Durability : Check cons again and you'll know why.
Veteran's Scars : Great hp boost in lane early game.

Why no...?
Lethality : My build doesn't include critical chance.
Vampirism : 1st Your Contempt for the Weak deals additionally magic damage. 2nd You have no on-hit abilities. 3rd Doesn't benefit with my playstyle.

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Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

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Zed's Abilities

Contempt for the Weak: Mostly amazing passive on last hitting minions. It will make your farming job a lot easier then it was before. I don't recommend to use it when minions has 50% health, but usually use it on about 30% percent of minion health. Of course it depends what type of minions you are hitting. Additionally it helps you to kill lizard, golems easier and faster which increases jungle speed. But it's not meant only for minions. In early game it's just a small damage buff against players which will be showed in gameplay section how to use it properly. It's mostly mid and late game damage buff. 10% of max hp as magic damage. It's really awesome. Why? Enemy champions usually when are injured heavily run away, but exactly this is what you need to. Getting buffed when they are low-hp will ensure kill for sure. Carries usually have 2000 max hp, and 200 additional damage is charming. But to maximize potential of this passive, try to use it with your ultimate = 300 additional damage only from your passive in level 16 to carry... tanks with low hp won't have a chance to survive this.

Razor Shuriken (Q): Strait line ability which deals damage + 100% bonus AD. Passing first enemy unit it deals 80% damage. It has long range, low CD, good damage output and is great poke ability. It's good ability but I don't like to max it in early game. I'll tell you why I have made this choice in Razor Shuriken vs Shadow Slash section. For me it's a minion kill ability in early game but great ability in mid & end game.

  • When Living Shadow is active try to hit with both shurikens to maximize damage output. If you can't hit with both shurikens try to hit with the closest one Zed to ensure the hit.
  • Use it to last-hit minions if it's not safe to come close to it, when you target minion try it go trough enemy champion either.
  • Use it to check bushes instead Living Shadow because Razor Shuriken has low CD.

Living Shadow (W): This is what make enemy champions fear their shadow. It deals equal amount of your ability damage, you can swap with your shadow as use of free flash through walls, minions etc. Till this day people usually ignore them which gives you huge benefit in lane and much, much more. This is what makes you Zed. Who are the most annoying champions in League -> those damage dealers who have free flash, for example, LeBlanc, Kassadin, Ezreal. And Zed is one of them and even better. When you run away from enemies you can blink and have sight behind you and cast abilities without being near, this can grand you kill. As jungler you can make your shadow near to dragon or baron as free ward and after you are sure that you can steal it W and smite from them, flash and you got your baron without getting hurt. More use of this ability will be relieved in Gameplay section.

  • When running away from enemies use Living Shadow to blink away from them and use your Shadow Slash to slow and damage them from distance.
  • Don't waste your Flash when you want to kill enemy that's running away from you. If he has very low-hp, then Living Shadow and Razor Shuriken him. If you know you won't hit him or kill him with Razor Shuriken, then Living Shadow and Death Mark on him to ensure you kill him.
  • You can use Living Shadow to sneak into bushes undetected [Thanks to Trixi]. (He leaves dark could on targeted location, but it's barely see-able, not so bad as Shaco cloud).
  • If your getting ganked on middle or end of lane, don't switch your Living Shadow positions immediately, instead cast Living Shadow at location where you want to get, go backwards from your shadow, let ganker reach you and then switch positions with your shadow and slow them with Shadow Slash. Don't wait too long because it lasts 4 seconds and don't go further when arrow is yellow (when it's red you cant switch positions). Example:

I saw Jax coming to gank me. I made Living Shadow from point 1 behind him and went some steps forward until I got yellow arrow. When he started to Leap Strike on me I switched positions. In the end I Shadow Slash him with my shadow to slow him and he failed his gank. If switched my positions earlier he would Leap Strike on me after that.

Shadow Slash (E): This your main damage ability it has low CD, low energy cost, good damage and ratio, AoE damage, slow. These qualities makes much better early game choice than Razor Shuriken. Still it has really low range, Darius would laugh about it, but its really worthy when you are using it with your other abilities. Razor Shuriken combined with Living Shadow deals additionally 50% damage this is I see mostly on current guides why they max Razor Shuriken but I don't think they do well with laning is you tell me.

Death Mark (R): When you hit level 6 this will ensure death to enemy. It's a killing machine. Equal damage done to your AD and bonus % damage from all your damage dealt. How more awesome can it be? There's more it teleports you to targeted enemy location, dodges enemy champion's ability, makes another shadow near to enemy and adds detonator that kills enemy after 3 seconds. Damn. It's like mixing Fiora, Vladimir and Zed abilities together and then after 3 seconds after dealing your job you can walk away like a boss and hear announcement that you killed an enemy. Too bad it's single target ability, but I can't ask more... ^^

  • Use it with Ignite and Contempt for the Weak (below 50% hp) to maximize detonator's damage.
  • When you see deadly ultimate activated (or any other ability that would kill you) like Darius Noxian Guillotine activate your Death Mark to avoid it's damage.
  • When someone is turret diving you with low hp be sure that turret targets enemy champion, and when he is close enough activate Death Mark and deal as much damage as you can after dash to kill enemy after you die or even win trade without being kill if you manage to blink away with your Living Shadow or flash.

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Razor Shuriken vs Shadow Slash


Most of new Zed players max Razor Shuriken first not Shadow Slash because it's low CD, high range, good damage ability. But still I doesn't attracts me. To be honest I started to play Zed with maxing Razor Shuriken mostly because it was recommended in Champion Spotlight, but after laning few times I got countered alot. After that I tried to jungle with him and I really liked to jungle and gank with him because I maxed Shadow Slash first. At start I'll tell my comparison between these to abilities:

+Longer Range
+Higher damage (+ higher ratios)
+Damages multiple targets with 20% damage reduction
+ Living Shadow adds additional 50% damage
+Lower CD
+Great slow ( Living Shadow adds additional slow)
+AoE damage
+Hard to miss
+Great farming ability
+Reduces CD of Living Shadow
+Low energy cost in all skill levels

So as you can see Shadow Slash benefits more than Razor Shuriken. It can slow, deal almost equal damage as Razor Shuriken with no miss. But still low range can make laning really hard against ranged champion like Teemo or Jayce. Ehm... not really, I my Laning Phase Combo (see in Gameplay Section) which really make things easier. I can poke, farm, reduce Living Shadow CD with damaging as many units I can.

But still Razor Shuriken does more damage, Imagine what damage it could do while Death Mark is activated.

Maybe it does but I would suggest to use some math to compare it equally:
Lets say we have 100 AD overall and Zed has level 5. Lets first take a look damage done in 6 seconds. So in six seconds I can cast 1x Razor Shuriken and 2x Shadow Slash with using Living Shadow:

Razor Shuriken: 1*145+100+1*145/2+50=145+72,5+150=367,5 damage in 6 seconds, losing 65 energy

Shadow Slash: 2*(120+80)=400 damage in 6 seconds, losing 100 energy

Seperated looks like Razor Shuriken would deal more damage with 100 energy cost:

100/60*367,5=565,38 damage

Maybe it does, but DPS on Shadow Slash is higher so you'll kill enemy faster with higher energy cost.

But now we will try add Living Shadow and level 1 ability to calculate energy cost and damage done:

With level 3 Razor Shuriken: 367,5 + 2*140 = 647,5 damage with 155 energy cost.

With level 3 Shadow Slash: 175 + 175/2 + 400 = 662,5 with 215 energy cost.

Now it really seems that Razor Shuriken is better than Shadow Slash. But will you always poke your enemy without getting minion kills using Shadow Slash, are you sure you will always hit Razor Shuriken with both shurikens without going trough minions. It's already 20% damage loss and who said that you will hit him with both shurikens. It's really hard to hit enemy with Razor Shuriken, because it's easy avoidable. Enemy can dodge 1 shuriken simple as Twisted Fate Wild Cards and it's already 72,5 damage loss and most of all such damage requires Living Shadow which has 22 second CD on skill level 1 while Shadow Slash has higher DPS, awesome Living Shadow cooldown reduction, great slow and other great bonuses what I mentioned before. Come one would you like to fight against Lee Sin with your poking ability Razor Shuriken while Shadow Slash has higher dps, so higher chance he will flee sooner from you, slow to apply your auto attacks and CD reduction on Living Shadow so you could after dealing damage make him waste his flash and still kill him. And as we were saying before about Death Mark in 3 seconds we would be able to cast 1
Shadow Slash but if I'll get till that time The Brutalizer with CD reduction I would manage deal higher DPS with easy usable ability. And I don't think you will be able to get 100 AD in level 5, I used it because it was easier to calculate with. Zed attack damage is really low (48.6 (+3.4 lvl)) compared while most bruisers have (54 (+3.3lvl)), because he relies on abilities not auto attacks, so damage boost won't be huge on Razor Shuriken, because his Living Shadow passive boost his AD late game so Razor Shuriken get more bonuses in mid, late game.


Shadow Slash fits better early game because of its easy use mechanic, great poking, slowing (free Phage) and farming ability. Shadow Slash reduces CD of Living Shadow which is really needed ability in early game to avoid ganks, poke, farm and kill enemies. And with my Laning Combo it will be much more rewarding than Razor Shuriken.

IMPORTANT: I won't always max Shadow Slash first because still Shadow Slash has extremely low range and probably vs Darius it would be really hard to lane against, here I would suggest to max Razor Shuriken as long range poke ability but it still requires testing. I guess Rumble is good example why you should not max E first.

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Skill Sequence

> > >

I have already mentioned why I max Shadow Slash first. After Shadow Slash I take Living Shadow so I could start using my combo in level 2 and more important that I could escape early ganks because of lack of ward. Then I put another point in Shadow Slash to improve benefits of this ability more and after this I take Razor Shuriken because I don't need % AD bonus from Living Shadow early game. Razor Shuriken is third important ability in skill order because it gives great damage in team fights in mid and late game. Well as every ultimate I put points for Death Mark in level 6, 11, 16.

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Gameplay Section (Skill Combo)

Laning Phase

This is my typical farming and poking combo what I use while laning. This will ensure that I get my farm, that I poke my enemy and that I'm in safe distance from enemy. Casting this combo will reduce CD of my Living Shadow, so after my Living Shadow will be ready again I'll do this poke again. Use this combo when you know that can't go in melee range otherwise use only your Shadow Slash and melee attacks to farm and poke. Full energy cost. If you want to continue to poke enemy use right combo instread. Keep in mind: Try to not use Razor Shuriken at all until you get skill level 3 because it drains huge amount of energy with low damage output. Use it when minions has really low health and you can't kill in melee range or when this will ensure enemy champion kill.

Gank (Pushed)

Slow enemy and deal damage with Shadow Slash until he's low of health or flashes away. In this situation be sure that you kill him use Living Shadow to block he's path and finish him with Shadow Slash and end with Razor Shuriken last.

Gank (Not Pushed)

If your team mate's lane is pushed but you need to poke or kill him use this combo.

Death Mark (Single Target)

I would suggest before activating Death Mark make sure he flashed away or try to CC you. Until he flashed poke him with Shadow Slash size. When you see CC projectile coming on your way or if he flashed use your Death Mark to negate he's ability and kill him.

Death Mark (Teamfight)

The difference between this and previous combo is that I don't waste my Living Shadow until team fight starts because on previous combo I use Living Shadow to reach enemy champion but in team fight I use it ensure I can escape team fight after my combo. Why? Because I'm assassin, I kill specific enemies not joining the team fight. Second, I will get killed really quickly if I'll stay there (armor/ mr / hp just keeps me alive while I'm doing my combo not securing me from death). Third, I already have already another shadow which will do damage to team from my ultimate. Forth, why I'm not casting my Living Shadow after my combo, maybe I'll be able to escape or maybe I won't manage to kill my target. Well technically you can, but then again I need to revise you - your abilities use energy, I did this mistake before, it sometimes is more rewarding, but mostly it's not. Because I deal huge amount of damage? About 400 AD when fully build with good defense and hp. So if enemy team is smart enough they will CC and kill me instantly. So to avoid this death I need to do my job fast and pop out from there. About Living Shadow thing - why I don't use after combo. Are you pretty sure you will have left enough energy to cast Living Shadow to escape? Maybe.

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Starting items

: It's not hard to understand why you need to start with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potion. It grants you bigger movement speed to easily avoid poking abilities and incoming ganks. Health Potion will make you stay longer in lane to farm and level up.

Core build

: It depends how are you going in lane. If you can farm normally without being hit too hard then you can skip this item but usually I get 1 Doran's Blade because every stat benefits on Zed early game. If you are having hard time on lane I recommend get another Doran's Blade and try to farm and poke only.

: This item is so wonderful early, mid game. It gives you everything Zed needs. AD will increase damage dealt by your abilities, ArPen will make hard bruisers or tanks, even Shen who wants to take his revange over his master, much easier to deal with. And CDR will let you activate 2 Shadow Slash per Death Mark which is really great damage addition, where ArPen will ensure that enemy champion explodes all over the floor.

: On this time you should complete your boots one of these types. After few games I overall I consider to buy Ionian Boots of Lucidity mostly because it reduces cooldown of my Death Mark which can be really helpful to kill enemy champions more often. Of course if your laning against great physical damage dealer take Ninja Tabi, if against strong magic dealer or CCer take Mercury's Treads.

: What else do you need: Lifesteal greatly increases your sustain but most important is huge amount of additional AD which will destroy every carry in mid game. When you'll get B.F. Sword at start you'll feel big difference but you combining your great farming ability with The Bloodthirster it will make you extremely powerful with low cost.

OR : After The Bloodthirster I mostly build Phage next because it grants me health for survivability and additional AD. Also passive slow is great addition but it's not the main reason I take Phage because of recent Phage nerfs and my Shadow Slash slow which grants even bigger slow almost for duration but anyway it can secure kill when you are out of energy and you don't want to lose your kill. If your having trouble with magic dealers take Hexdrinker instead. Shield has saved my life plenty of times. But after Hexdrinker build Phage because you need that health.

: Because you have fully stacked The Bloodthirster you will need to ensure that you will survive. After seeing your damage output enemy will try to focus you or escape from you. And this is exactly what you need - great slow passive that will turn victim's legs into iceblocks because now you can't rely on Shadow Slash slow (mostly now it turns to damage only ability) and large amount of health that will save your stacked The Bloodthirster for longer duration and life from bigger damage income.

Further Choices

This is time when you need to understand your situation. Next item choices are more depended on what items do enemy champions have, mostly carries.

OR : If you are getting destroyed by AD carries consider to buy Chain Vest. If your death will result huge team damage loss consider buying Guardian Angel for additional armor and mr, plus life-saving passive.

: If you are getting killed by magic dealers consider buying Maw of Malmortius. It won't add great amount of MR but its passive will can save you from deadly spells. Also Maw of Malmortius is gorgeous combining your Living Shadow passive which will make you even more deadly.

: If you feel that you don't do any damage because people are stacking armor buy Last Whisper. You want to faceroll your (armor>100) enemies. I usually sell The Brutalizer for this.

: I usually buy this item in end game when I lost my The Bloodthirster stacks and have no time to farm it. Lifesteal loses its value in end game but not critical chance and passive.

Thormail: Consider buying this if enemy team are mostly AD damage dealers.

: Used to buy this item for Zed instead of Frozen Mallet but Frozen Mallet benefit Zen more but of course you can try, I really enjoy activating Randuin's Omen after using Death Mark

: After playing some games with Zed I find myself Trinity Force pretty useful item during Death Mark. As I mentioned before Zed has one of the lowest base attack damage in the game but when you skill-up Death Mark to level 3 one Sheen proc will destroy player during it because you need to get as big DPS in 3 seconds as you can get and as I said before too, Zed is assassin, you just pop your Death Mark, use Living Shadow away from team fight use your Shadow Slash and Razor Shuriken and use Living Shadow to get away, then wait for kill. You should replace this item with Frozen Mallet if there's no huge CC champions like Malzahar or Warwick who can deny you easily with low survivability.

Possible Season 3 items
Ravenous Hydra: I never thought Tiamat would be viable again in LoL but its active splash damage with your extremely high AD would deal massive damage not only to target but enemy team included and would heal you with nice amount of health. And if you use this active while Death Mark is active, carries had no chance to survive this ^^. Thinking to put this item as mid-late game item when you start to obtain good AD and higher skill level of Living Shadow passive.

The Black Cleaver: This is would be so great item for Zed. It builds from The Brutalizer with Ruby Crystal adding decent health with max 30% ArPen. This would surely replace Last Whisper because you focus on 1 target mainly when it reduces armor which benefits even for your team. Probably early game item.

Mercurial Scimitar: If enemy team is focusing you and trying to CC as fast as possible, this would remove all CC effects from you and add 100% movement speed buff which could help you to escape team fight by using Living Shadow after dealing your Death Mark Combo.

These are main item which I'll consider to look and maybe change some existing items from current build when season 3 will come live. I have tried these items on PBE and bth they are just made for Zed. Of course other existing item changes will also change my item pick in current build like buffed Bloodrazor which start from 70 AD but stacks till 100 AD, where Infinity Edge is nerfed a little AD reduced to 70 from 80. This will automatically remove Infinity Edge from possible picks in end game. And of course season 3 buff-nerfed Frozen Mallet maybe it would not be so viable for tanky champions but for Zed it would be perfect because of 10 AD bonus. Also health reduction and slow reduction won't do much to you because of new The Black Cleaver and Shadow Slash. If you want to see more upcoming season 3 changes here's the link. Don't be fooled because there are a lot of false information like Thornmail cost from 2000 to 1480 with same stats. Are you kidding me? :D (Real new price in PBE atm 2200 gold)

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Why I won't say anything much about jungling path because Season 3 will... eh what the hell?

Take Boots of Speed and 3 Health potions ( or Cloth Armor instead)
Kill Giant Wolf using Shadow Slash with leash
Then go right after Ancient Golem to get massive CDR with Smite
Level Living Shadow so you could gank
You have 3 options:

After killing Wraith in third option go kill Big Golem
You should be now level 3, upgrade Shadow Slash again for stronger slow and AoE damage
Go kill Lizard Elder by using Smite and you should be level 4 by now (skill-up Razor Shuriken)
Go gank or return to base
Complete your Ninja Tabi
True Ninja Gank
This is what I wanted to share you the most. I already mentioned in Zed's Abilities section that Living Shadow allows you to sneak into bushes undetected. Well this is surely a huge advantage for more successful ganks. Interesting how?

This is my the most favorite way to use Living Shadow. You can cast it from Ancient Golem jungle place to river's bush. This will make you blink to bushes immediately without detecting you if there's no ward in that bush. I had so much fun with this. Enemy support Blitzcrack put ward near to bush but not in bush to clear the vision. I went away to my jungle (Purple). After that enemy bot was so confident that I won't try to gank because of ward but they were wrong. I blinked again in those bushes and waited till my Living Shadow cooldown ends. This time enemy team attacked my bot team with their low hp jungler. I just went out of bush, spammed my Shadow Slash and got Triple Kill with losing 2 of my teammates.

Another great way to use Living Shadow for ganking. You don't need to force your team to push their lane because you can get to second bush undetected where you get perfect position for ganking. Usually I surprise enemies if I do like this.

Not really powerful way to use Living Shadow for gank but sometimes useful if they have ward in bush. Just go back from bush when they spot you, then you reach Dragon , use your Living Shadow to blink fast and gank from behind with 10 second interval from place where they saw you before. They should be surprised.

Was glad to share this information with you because Season 3 won't affect these changes and these are really useful for sneaky ganks.

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Thanks for reading my Zed guide, I hope this guide will make you enjoy playing Zed as I do. I still want to add Jungle Section and Lane opponent section (Probably when S3 will come live). If you have some questions or comments about the guide, leave them on comment section or send me PM. You can find me by searching summoner's name DEA1201 in EUW server.