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Zilean Build Guide by Massive Nuts

Middle Zilean mid hypercarry [S9 Diamond]

Middle Zilean mid hypercarry [S9 Diamond]

Updated on September 13, 2019
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Massive Nuts Build Guide By Massive Nuts 8 1 11,019 Views 0 Comments
8 1 11,019 Views 0 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Massive Nuts Zilean Build Guide By Massive Nuts Updated on September 13, 2019
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Summon Aery
Manaflow Band
Gathering Storm

Cosmic Insight
Biscuit Delivery

+8 Ability Haste
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+65 Base Health


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Teleport


Threats & Synergies

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Champion Build Guide

Zilean mid hypercarry [S9 Diamond]

By Massive Nuts

Hi there summoner, Massive Nuts at your service with another in-depth guide, this time on Zilean Mid. I'm a diamond zilean main with roughly 70% winrate on 320 games so I do know what I am talking about in this guide. It's a pick that has no true counter, no true counterplay, no weaknesses if played correctly. It has a very-low banrate and playrate considering how strong it is. But bear with me, it is a hard champion. That is why I will give you some advices to master it.

If you read the entirety of this guide, I promise to make you a better Zilean. Love.

Now click on a specific part you wish to see first or just scroll down :)

This item is a core item on Zilean. It starts as the worst, but after 10 minutes it's the best item in the game. After 10min, it gives 500HP, 400 Mana and 100AP. Additionally, the passive gives a really good sustain to provide a decent laning phase and suits Zilean's repetitive use of abilities. This item also has quite a low cost and can secure his snowball in the mid-game. Rush this item first.


This item is absolutely necessary on Zilean. This is the item which will give Zilean its powerspike and insane waveclear that he is well-known for. Purchasing this item second will make your mid-game a lot stronger and hard to deal with for your opponents. It will give you a really good amount of AP and mana, allowing you to roam more around the map and help your team. Build this item second. You can also buy the Lost Chapter component on your first back if you manage to grab a kill or two. Moving around with your Time Warp also makes the stacks go faster so you proc it more often. After this item, you will cap your 45% CDR after less than 15 minutes.


This item is the last core item on Zilean. Try and build your Boots on the first or second back as movement speed will allow you to place your bombs easier and farm without being outpoked and forced to back. Also, Zilean has one of the lowest base movement speed (335) so try and get that number up before you get caught in the river. Getting the magic penetration on the boots will really increase your burst damage and no other boots matches the utility these one gives, unless against heavy AD or AP teamcomp.


Rabadon is usually a good 3rd pick when you're doing pretty good. (which means you have less than 3 deaths and a couple of kills, basically) It greatly enhances the damage, almost doubling it and you will hit another power spike after this item. Not only will bombs do much more damage, but you will also revive you or your teammates with more HP. It's really worth it if you have the money, but if you don't have it, don't bother waiting to get it.


Banshee's Veil is super useful: First it gives you CDR, which will be converted to an additional 20 AP (making it 95 AP) and 60 MR. The shield is also a very good way of baiting enemies who want to pop it before a fight, as most abilities have a similar range to your bombs, making easy for you to bait them into popping your shield. You can build this item when you feel you need it: against heavy-AP or a grab, build it after your boots.


This item is a huge investment. I recommend only upgrading your Dark Seal if you know how to place in a teamfight and know how to play passive-aggressive without taking too many risks, and you already got 3+ stacks on it. The reward if you do play it correctly is well-worth: you can reach up to 145 AP with an item that costs a third of a Rabadon's. Definitely consider it when you start mastering the champion.


Liandry's torment is a really underestimated item on Zilean as his bombs will always explode 2 seconds after he puts them on somebody, you already increase your damage by 4% + the burn for 4,5% of their max-HP. (7,5% if you E them after the bombs) All together, you get some decent additional damage, added to the nice tanky/AP base stats of the item. I would recommend this as a 4th or last item. Quite reliable.


Another really strong item for late-game. Giving you additional magic penetration and AP, this will make your double-bombs one-shot almost any squishy. But I would pick Liandry's over Morello if it wasn't for the Grievous Wound, which is really useful against teamcomps that rely on healing. (Vladimir, Sylas, Swain, etc.) In that case, definitely go this item 3rd or 4th. Otherwise, take Liandry's over it.


Really useful item when against assassins. It will give you enough time to get your cooldowns back and/ or escape an ability. It also gives a decent amount of AP and CDR which will be converted to additional AP, and some armor which can be very useful against a fed ADC too. Take this item as a 3rd or 4th item if you need it.



This is a subjective representation of how well these keystones do into Zilean mid. I won't be covering any other keystone but Aery simply because I believe it is the most efficient and has worked the best for me, both during laning phase and late-game. However, I am happy to answer any questions you may have, or suggestions to consider.

Summon Aery is the keystone that I prefer on Zilean Mid. It has many perks: in laning phase, your autoattacks will send Aery and end up dealing twice the damage, making your poke decent while not wasting any mana on it. Time Warp sends Aery to your teammates to shield them a decent amount. Landing a bomb on an enemy also send Aery on them instantly to deal a couple of additional damage. Overall, I think it has so much power in early, it has no match.

Zilean's heavy reliance on his abusive use of mana makes it very hard to manage your mana efficiently without being overpoked or underfarming. To remedy to this issue, taking Manaflow Band will give you 250 mana and some mana regen after hitting 10 bombs on your opponent.

Transcendence is a must as you need to reach 45% of CDR ASAP to be considered a champ. This will also allow you to exceed the CDR limit and get extra-AP from it as most of the utility items you need will have CDR. (Zhonya, Banshee, etc.)

Finally, Gathering Storm is just a matter of matchup and team analysis. Do you need late-game power? Take it. If you have already a super-strong late, take Scorch. Scorch is better in the early game as the burn will be stronger than the additional AP right until minute 30.

As a secondary branch, Inspiration is an absolute must, and I will tell you why. First off, the Biscuit Delivery is hyper necessary in your laning phase. Your kit does not contain sustain in any way so you need to use as many ressources as possible to be able to stay in lane as long as necessary. I usually back arround 7-8 minutes, and those two biscuits are the reasons why I can stay so long.

Cosmic Insight can seem like a very small rune, but on Zilean, it makes all the difference. Having that extra 5% CDR will make every situation smooth, with your abilities arriving right when you need them. You can only use the Triple Bomb Move if you have 45% CDR too. This will also give you free 5% CDR at the start of the game.

The scaling CDR is also a choice, like Gathering Storm VS Scorch. The adaptive damage can help you in early, for farming and poking, but the CDR will be worth more AP after level 9, giving you 10 AP instead of 9 for the Adaptive (and 20 AP at lvl 18).

The adaptive damage is quite necessary, as you will need it to farm and to poke. Without it, you won't be a threat at all and will get lanebullied.

Last, I would take health in most cases, unless their teamcomp is heavy based around AD or AP, in which case I would go for armor or MR. As Zilean, you should focus on the macro instead of taking resistances for your lane opponent.

Zilean's abilities are super unique and can seem simple, but take a lot of understanding to master.


Time in a Bottle is a really good passive for a Midlaner. It stores a scaling amount of experience until you give it to an ally champion about to level up. It can only be used outside of combat.

Tips and tricks: Try using it on your jungler as much as possible in early and mid-game. Not only will it make him a more powerful jungler, having a better clear and ganks, but it will also give you an experience advantage on the enemy midlaner. For example, if he clears red-side, he can come by midlane so you and him can both hit level 3 at the same time. In late-game, use it on anybody. Waiting for it to stack too much experience can end up in your being behind your potential.


Time Bomb is your only damaging ability, with an 90% AP ratio. Your whole kit is centered around it. Zilean throws a bomb which sticks to the unit the closest to the center of it, before exploding 3 seconds later. If multiple targets are in the center of the bomb, champions will always be prioritized. Placing two bombs on top of the same unit results in them being stunned for a solid 1,5 seconds.

Tips and tricks: Knowing the cast time (0.25sec), the throw time (0.5sec at max range) and the detonating time (3sec) will make you a much better Zilean. Mostly because enemies have 0.75 seconds at max range to dodge it, which means you need to predict their next move and analyse their gamestyle.


Rewind is a really simple ability, it reduces the cooldown of your other abilities by 10 seconds. Basically resetting your Q at level 2, but also your E when you have at least 30% CDR.

Tips and tricks: Try and have both your Time Bomb and your Time Warp on cooldown when you use it, especially in combat in mid-late-game. I know it can seem kind of hard or dumb, but it's really just a waste of an ability. Also, I do recommend not using this ability too much in early to keep your mana, just use single bombs and single speed-ups.


Time Warp is a decisive spell. You either chose to boost yourself/ an ally, or to slow down an enemy. Now while it only starts at 40%, it goes up to 99%, which is both the biggest slow and biggest movement speed boost ability in the game.

Tips and tricks: Deciding if you want to slow or accelerate depends entirely on one question: "Are you the prey, or the hunter?" Your first cast should be the answer to that question. If you are the prey, boost yourself. If not, slow them down. Your second cast should in 99% of cases be on you or your teammates. Sort of like a "here's a stunned gift for you my fellow allies".


Chronoshift is your ultimate ability. It casts a mark that revives a champion after 2 seconds with an amount of HP that scales with 200% of your AP. The mark lasts 5 long seconds. At level 3 and with 45% cooldown, this ability is on a 33 seconds cooldown.

Tips and tricks: As I said, the mark lasts 5 seconds. That's a long time for enemies not to be dealing damage to somebody. So don't wait until the very last minute and risk losing a fight because you're to shy to ult the carry. Also: who to ult depends on the situation. If you are outpositioned/ hard-focused, you should R yourself no matter what. Because you can help your other teammates later on with your other abilities. When you R yourself, try keeping your cooldowns so you can double bomb on yourself to escape afterwards.



What leveling up your Q does: Increases cost and damage, lowers cooldown
What leveling up your W does: Lowers cooldown
What leveling up your E does: Increases the speed % boost or slow
What leveling up your R does: Increases cost and revive-health, lowers cooldown

Classic support leveling

Classic midlane leveling

What I recommend


The first two upgrades are pretty much mandatory, you want your bombs to be maxed as fast as possible and of course your R too, giving them both lower cooldowns and higher efficiency. But what you upgrade next is kind of awkward. You really need those two abilities upgraded as soon as possible. Here's what I recommend. You upgrade your Time Warp to level 3, giving it a solid 70% speed affectation, which is a lot more decent compared to 40% which is really weak. Then you max your Rewind, and finish with your last 2 Time Warp levels. This will make you so much more efficient without sacrificing your precious cooldowns.




-> ->

Like the name says, this is just a basic double-bomb. You should be able to do the whole combo in under 1 second. As fast as you can. Go in practice tool, try and get your fingers to memorize that movement because you will use it all the time. Should you aim at the exact same spot? Well, it depends on the mobility of the enemy you're aiming at, but in most cases, yes, on the exact same spot. The thing is, it should be so fast, most people shouldn't have time to react.



-> -> ->

Now this combo is just like that first one, you walk up to an enemy, except you're going to use a slow on him before putting your double bomb to secure their arrival at destination. Now be careful with that one: people with flash will know you are about to double bomb them when you Time Warp them, so I usually bait their flash with a first bomb without keeping my second one for their flash out. Keep track of your opponent's flash cooldown. That is super important.



-> -> -> ->

Yet again, this uses the same principle as the above, but after this combo you will Time Warp yourself to leave so he can't fight back. This combo costs a lot of mana so I recommend keeping it for mid and late game exclusively. This is the most efficient way to use your kit in a rapid fight without taking any or very few damage. You can repeat this combo every 7 seconds at level 9 with 45% CDR. I really use this all the time.




I hear y'all "But this is not hard why is it a diamond combo?". Well, see, I see too many Zileans only ulting themselves and acting like they are both the engage and the carry. You must respect the fact that you are never the engager. You guide others to a treasure you cannot possess. To engage teamfights, you should always use this combo on a character you think has the best engage. It can be Blitzcrank, Aatrox, Hecarim, Dr. Mundo, Kayn, etc. Basically anything that isn't an ADC or a squishy support, because they stay next to you, in the backline, so you can revive them if they outposition themselves. Really, when you start using this combo, you'll see a difference from regular engages. Giving that extra-MS can allow them to reach the backline and the bomb acts as an additional damage.



-> -> 2,75 seconds -> ->

The triple bomb challenger combo goes like this: you first throw a Time Bomb and press Rewind at the exact same time, then you wait 2,75 seconds before repeating this process. That way, you can accumulate 2 stuns of 1,5 seconds into a stun of 3 seconds. For that, aim to throw your last bomb at the 3h mark of the bomb, because the cast and throw time of the ability is approximately 0,75 seconds. It's hard to explain with words, so here is a short clip of me doing it. There are a few ways to use these combos: when an opponent is being CC'ed, or is in zhonya: it makes it easier to let the initial bomb sit there.

Now the chain-bombing is a really awkward combo because the timing is extremely precise and it's really hard to pull it out in game. You can theoretically stun champions for 1,5 seconds with 1 second break for up to 7 times in a row, but it is incredibly difficult. If you're interested, take a look at this really cool video made by a fellow Zilean main which explains it perfectly.

If you have reached this section, congrats, you're actually in the core of this guide. This is what will matter the most for you to understand how to play Zilean.

The game actually starts in champ-select. Does it matter if you first pick Zilean? Not really, there is no real counter to Zilean, so don't hesitate. You need to learn how to play every matchup to become better anyways. Always check your runes, your sums, and here we go. At the start of the game, position yourself defensively in a safe spot where you can have vision on enemy invades. For the first few waves, you shouldn't put any bombs or maximum 1/2 on your opponent, focus on farming. If he tries to poke, AA him and walk away. That doesn't mean you can't put pressure, it just means you should keep your mana. Keep a safe distance. In these few waves, your goal is to push as hard as possible with your auto-attacks without losing too much health. Farming undertower is really hard in early-game with Zilean as you have a low attack-speed. Know your AA aswell as your bomb damage. Your farm is really key to you snowballing into mid-game, and for that all you need is practice, knowing your damage, and the matchups. After those few waves, you should start pushing harder and looking towards roaming a bit. As Zilean, it is hard to 1v1 your opponent unless he makes mistakes as your damage is quite low until you get your core items. But try and mirror his poke, you have biscuits to survive past the early game without too much hassle.
Your first two Teleports should only be used on your own tower, as roaming will cost you too much in both experience and minions. Most early-games look alike and not having priority can be frustrating, but practice is the best way to achieve early-game perfection, and when you get the hang of it, you can abuse your opponents with good spacing and knowing their cooldowns.


Now this is where the fun begins, gentlemen. By 15 minutes, you should have completed, or be close to complete your three core items: Rod of Ages, Luden's Tempest and Sorcerer's Shoes. Now you have your powerspike, it's actually time to play the game. You will now be able to one-shot the caster minions and 2-shot the melee. When a wave arrives, i recommend you double-bomb the second melee minion as he walks. Then put a bomb on the casters and you are done. A wave should disappear in 5 seconds. This gives you in 99% of cases lane priority, which means time to get some vision, help around the map, capture objectives, etc. In mid-game, your goal is to have the biggest kill participation in your team. Be everywhere, while keeping a decent farming. Your macro as Zilean is 50% of the gameplay. Know where to be and when to be. I recommend you watch this really good video if you would like to improve your mid-game macro as a mobile midlaner:

Chose the right items after your core items to assure a decent late-game. If you are ahead, good, keep being everywhere. You are a support mage, not an assassin, which means you don't want to facecheck bushes, so take Farsight Alteration and pink wards to get good vision around the map. Your teleport can be really useful in botlane and toplane fights so keep a look on the minimap at all time. From now on, you become your team's carry in 50% of games. You have pressure on your shoulders so try and keep calm and a straight mind while playing.


Yes, pressure. That's what you will have until the end of the game now, if it's not already finished. Your late-game is the strongest in the whole of League of Legends if played correctly. Your positioning in teamfight is really decisive, don't be too close to the fight, but don't be too behind either. Chose the right person to focus and the right person to save with your ultimate. Your have an insane waveclear so use it to keep all lanes pushed, make use of your TP. Don't come to a fight too late, and keep being careful. I recommend not flaming or pinging as it will reduce your concentration. When you play Zilean, you have to become Zilean: the mindful calculator, the explosive gamechanger, the carry.


This guide is now finished, hope you enjoyed it. If you did, leave a comment and a vote. Also if you have any other questions, I will be active and updating the guide whenever a big change comes along. Thank you for reading, this was Massive Nuts.

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