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Zed Build Guide by TheAlphapotomus

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League of Legends Build Guide Author TheAlphapotomus

Zed - Strike from the Shadows [In-Depth]

TheAlphapotomus Last updated on November 19, 2012
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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: 0

Honor Guard

Defense: 21

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Zed, the Master of Shadows

Hey there, my name is TheAlphapotomus and this is my first guide. This guide will feature Zed, the Master of Shadows. Zed is an energy-based champion with a lot of burst ability and in my opinion, really defines the role of an assassin. What makes him unique, I think, is how incredibly agile he is at any given moment and his ability to manage energy extremely well post-early game.

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Pros / Cons


+Highly agile
+Tons of burst
+Great early ganks
+Awesome skins
+Passive makes last-hitting easy
+Is a freaking ninja!

-Squishy early game
-Drains energy very quickly unless abilities hit while a Living Shadow is active
-Relies on ability combos for maximum damage output
-Not a very good duelist
-Absolutely no sustain
- Living Shadow has an extremely long cooldown for a regular ability

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Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Armor

Greater Glyph of Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage

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Summoner Spells

Smite: Deals true damage to any monster, enemy minion, or pet. An absolute must-have for junglers. (Amount of increases per summoner level)
Flash: Teleports your champion a short distance to your cursors location. This spell is just awesome. Use it for a quick dodge, escape, re-position, or aggressive play.
Ignite: Deals true damage to any enemy champion (Damage dealt increases per summoner level) I don't normally bring this when I jungle, simply because I feel Flash is much more valuable, but since you have Living Shadow I guess you could bring Ignite, really just depends on the player.

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Abilities Explained

  • Contempt for the Weak: Whenever Zed autoattacks an enemy below 50% health, he deals an additional 6 / 8 / 10% of their maximum health as magic damage. This effect cannot occur on the same target more than once every 10 seconds.

    This is such a great passive. It makes last-hitting minions so much easier. It's also great for finish off a severely weakened opponent. However, because it only does damage based on a percentage of their maximum health, it's most effective against tankier enemies.

  • Razor Shuriken (Q): Zed and his shadows throw their shurikens, each dealing physical damage to the first enemy they pass through and a lesser amount to enemies thereafter. Living Shadow: Additional shurikens striking the same enemy deal 50% damage and restore energy.

    Your bread-and-butter ability. It's a lot like Kennen's Thundering Shuriken, however, Razor Shuriken can pass through multiple enemies. It is a skill shot, so you'll need some practice to fully get the hang of it. If you have a Living Shadow active and your Razor Shuriken + the Living Shadow's hit the same target, it will deal additional damage.

  • Living Shadow (W): (Passive): Zed's bonus attack damage is increased by a percentage.
    Additional Bonus Attack Damage: 5 / 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 %
    (Active): Zed's shadow dashes forward, remaining in place for 4 seconds. Reactivating this ability will cause Zed to switch positions with this shadow. Zed's shadow will mimic his basic abilities. If both strike the same target Zed regains some energy. Energy can only be restored once per mimicked ability.

    What can I say? This ability is what makes Zed so unique. It's almost like LeBlanc's Distortion, and feels very similar. Living Shadow is what you will use for your ganks, zoning, and energy management. Learning how to fully utilize this ability will determine how effective you are in game and how valuable you will be to your team.

  • Shadow Slash (E): (Active): Zed and his shadows create a burst of shadow, dealing physical damage to nearby enemies.
    Zed's slash reduces the cooldown of Living Shadow by 1 second for each enemy struck. His shadows' slashes slow enemies for 1.5 seconds. Living Shadow: Overlapping Shadow Slashes striking the same enemy deal no additional damage but will incur an increased slow and restore energy.

    This ability is not only my favorite to look at, it's my favorite period. Shadow Slash is an AoE (Area of Effect) ability that deals damage to enemies around Zed. While this is already a fantastic ability, it's full potential is unlocked when used in conjunction with Living Shadow. Using a Shadow Slash on an opponent that's near your Living Shadow will slow them, making this a great ambush tool and an essential combo for your ganks. Additionally, if both your Shadow Slash and your Living Shadow's hit the same enemy, the slow effect is doubled.
  • Death Mark (R): (Active): Zed becomes untargetable and dashes to target enemy champion. Upon arrival, he marks the target for death and spawns a living shadow behind the target. This shadow lasts 4 seconds and mimics Zed's abilities. Reactivating Death Mark will cause Zed to switch positions with this shadow.
    After 3 seconds, the mark will detonate, dealing physical damage equal to 100% of Zed's attack damage plus a percentage of all magic and physical damage dealt to the target by Zed and his shadows while the mark was active.

    One of my favorite ultimate's in the game. It's so versatile and it doesn't cost any energy. Death Mark has 3 important components. 1.) Zed will become untargetable and dash to the target's location. 2.) A Living Shadow will be summoned behind the target. 3.) A debuff will be applied to the target. Utilizing these three components will ensure you make the most of your ultimate. There are a few situations in which you will find Death Mark to your advantage.

    - Your opponent is low on health, and so are you. However, the enemy is packing a lethal skill set that can destroy you instantly. No problem, simply activate Death Mark and you will become untargetable, unload your combo (E -> Q -> E) and send a Living Shadow to the side and activate it again to blink to it's location. If you didn't instantly kill your target, no worries, the 3-second debuff will handle that.

    - Your opponent is relatively low on health and aren't the least bit worried about you seeing as their somewhat healthy. Wrong, they probably didn't take the 3rd component of your ultimate into consideration. Remember, the debuff does damage based on how much you dealt while it lasted. Using Death Mark followed by your combo ( E -> Q -> E) with deal massive damage on its own, coupled with the base damage from Death Mark PLUS the damage soon to be dealt from the debuff will ensure your kill.

    - Your opponent is extremely low on health you just wanna get rid of that pesky bugger quick and stylish. Pop your Death Mark, throw in a Shadow Slash and simply walk away, if that initial burst didn't wipe them out, no worries, they died from the debuff only seconds later.

NOTE: The 2nd component of Death Mark: A Living Shadow will be summoned behind the target. DO NOT throw in a 2nd Living Shadow unless you are planning to use it as an escape mechanism. While a 3rd Shadow Slash will yield an even greater slow, the doubled slow is already powerful, and 3 Razor Shurikens hitting the same target will not do any additional damage.

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Ability Order

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

> > >

Grabbing Shadow Slash first when jungling is essential as you take full use of the AoE in the monster camps.

Take Razor Shuriken second for the extra damage.

Third, take Living Shadow for ganks, quick flashes, slows, and extra damage.

I keep Razor Shuriken and Shadow Slash evenly leveled as both of them are crucial to making strong combos in ganks and team fights.

I level Living Shadow last simply because it is Zed's utility, not his damage output.

And of course, take Death Mark at levels 6, 11, and 16.

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  • + 5x : A pretty common start for a jungler, the Cloth Armor gives you a nice bit of defense from those evil jungle monsters, and the 5x Health Potions for sustain seeing as you have absolutely none.
  • : GP10 items are just awesome for junglers. Since you're not consistently farming CS in-lane, the extra gold comes in handy. (Sell this sometime mid-game when you have a steady amount of farm)
  • : Yay, now we can actually move at a rate faster than that of your grandmother.
  • : Zed is naturally squishy, getting a Phage gives you a nice bit of extra health, and the added attack damage is nice too.
  • : Now you're faster, and you have a nice boost of attack speed.
  • : You've built into this from your Phage and now you have a pretty good amount of health for an assassin, and even though it's only +20 attack damage, that's combated by Living Shadow's passive.
  • : The +45 attack damage is just awesome. It'll speak for itself in the next team fight.
  • : You've build into this from your B. F. Sword but now you've got even more attack damage and a bit of life steal too. This'll make a bit more sustainable in fights now.
  • : This item is just essential for Zed, much like it is on Talon, you get +25 Attack Damage, 10% CDR, and 15-flat armor pen.
  • : Having built into this from your Brutalizer, now you've got more even more attack damage, CDR, and armor pen. Also, making use of the item's active in 1v1s and team fights will help lots as well.
  • : +25 Attack Damage -- you're getting later in the game now and you're needing a bit more damage output.
  • : I generally get this after your previous Pickaxe because you get a good amount of attack damage, and the added magic resist really helps when you find yourself being targeted by the enemy APC's. You also might find that it's passive saved your life a few times.
  • : Again, just adding more raw power.
  • : I get this to finish off my build. By now, you're way late in the game, and the enemy has now fully realized how much damage you're doing, so naturally they're going to buy some armor. Not a problem, the +40% armor penetration from this item will take care of their armor.

    NOTE: Please don't down-vote simply because you don't agree with the item build. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions leave a comment so that I can address the issue.

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Jungling / Farming

- When jungling and farming in general, make use of Zed's passive. It makes last-hitting far more easier.

- You're going to want to farm quite a bit, Zed requires a rather expensive build and the more money you have, the better.

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Team Fighting

- Your role in a team fight as an assassin is simple. Wait for your tank to engage, then immediately locate the enemy teams' AP or AD carry and get rid of them.

- If you notice they're out-positioning you or are blocked by their tank, throw in a Living Shadow behind their carry and activate it again to blink in behind them.

- As an assassin with hardly an sustain except from that of your items, you don't want to stay in the middle of the fight for a long period of time. Take out your targets, then get out and re-position to begin helping your team with the remaining enemies.

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Thank you for taking the time to read my guide on Zed, the Master of Shadows. I will continue to try out new builds, as well as edit this one and add possible items. Take time to comment and vote. If you have any questions or concerns you can PM me or leave them in the comments section.

Also a special thanks to jhoijhoi for the guide on how to make a guide, which you can find here.

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Change Log

- November 17, 2012: Guide created & published.

Soon to come:

-Alternative builds, runes, and item choices
-Jungle Route w/ detailed explanation
-Ganking tips
-Information on how to properly use Zed's abilities

All credits to jhoijhoi for the template, which you can find here.