IntroductionZed is a melee AD assassin and the nightmare of every squishy champion. His job is to eliminate the enemy AD or AP Carry to turn it into a 5 vs 4 teamfight. As all ninjas his abilities make use of Energy as its resource instead of mana. Zed can be a tricky champion to learn if you want to get the most out of his Living Shadows. This guide will focus on his role as a jungler and this build will be as cost efficient and effective as possible to maximize his potential.
Why not 21/9/0?
The reason we won't be using a 21/9/0 build is because he got no innate sustain. Although he clears jungle camps really fast, he will eventually get low on hp. With the 13/17/0 masteries he will be much tankier, while having more or less the same clearing time. The loss of AD and Armor Pen is minimal.
What about the lack of damage?
By getting both the cooldown reduction masteries in the Offensive and the Defensive tree, Zed will be able to get close to 40% cooldown reduction together with his Lucidity Boots and Brutalizer . This means more DPS in the long run as far as his Energy bar allows it. His Living Shadow also has a very long cooldown (22 secs at level 1 and 16 secs at level 5). Because this skill makes or breaks Zed, it is vital to have the lowest cooldown on this skill as possible. At level 18 the cooldown of this skill will be down to approximately 10 secs.
A fairly standard runepage for an assassin. With the amount of Armor Pen you will be able to negate most of the armor of the jungle camps, while still having enough AD to clear the jungle camps quickly.
Marks: Armor Penetration or Flat AD Marks. Zed scales well with bonus AD, but Armor Penetration will be better for lategame. I prefer having a balanced amount of both.
Seals: Armor Seals are the only viable Seals Zed can use in the jungle, because of his lack of sustain and mediocre armor at level 1.
Glyphs: Scaling Magic Resist Glyps is a must for him to not instantly getting destroyed by AoE AP skills. Scaling instead of Flat, because you won't have to lane against an AP in the jungle and the jungle creeps do AD damage. You will have more benefits with having more Magic Resist lategame.
Quints: Flat AD Quints or Armor Penetration Quints. I prefer having flat AD Quints for a faster jungle clearance and a bit more damage early.
Smite is a must for any jungler. It helps you secure buffs and objectives (Dragon/Baron) and it cuts a lot of a jungler's clearing time.
Exhaust is in my opinion the best summoner spell for Zed, because of his lack of hard CC. The slow duration of his E is only 1.5 secs at all ranks and Exhaust will help you to stick to your target during ganks. Exhaust also does very well lategame, when especially the AD Carry shines. Flash isn't necessary for Zed, because he can switch positions with his Living Shadow .
Flash can be taken instead of Exhaust if you are in need of an extra escape.
Passive: 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 passive will helps you a lot clearing jungle camps. It synergizes well with his ultimate and it is important to make use of this passive if you are going for the kill. Try to get at least one auto attack off when the enemy is low. It does a surprisingly amount of damage although it does magic instead of attack damage, so it will not benefit from the amount of armor penetration. The passive does, however, fully apply the damage on his Death Mark pre-mitigation.
Q: Razor Shuriken
Active: 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.
This is a straight line skillshot which passes through targets, dealing physical damage. The skillshot is quite slow, but by using his Living Shadow, you can get additional range or more damage depending on the situation.
W: Living Shadow
Passive: Zed's bonus attack damage is increased by a percentage.
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.
Zed's key ability. This skill separates the good from the bad Zed players. It has a nice passive, which gives you bonus AD, it can be used to setup ganks, maximize his damage, regaining energy and as a gap closer or escape.
The passive of this skill gives you up to 25% bonus attack damage, which scales nicely with the items you will be getting. By placing a living shadow near your target and using Shadow Slash right after makes it a perfect setup for a gank. Most likely you want to switch places after this combo to start making use of your passive. Also this combo makes it a lot easier to hit your Q , because of the slowed enemy.
The shadow will mimic your abilities, so hitting both Zed's and his Shadow's shuriken will deal additional damage. By hitting both skills will also regain you some energy. This is important, because it is his only way to regain some energy next to his base regeneration.
Finally you can use this skill as an extra gap closer if you are not in range with your ultimate or as an escape by placing the shadow over walls. It has a fairly quick animation, but you need to get use of the range of this skill. The range is quite small, so there will be sometimes where you will fail to get over a wall with this skill.
E: Shadow Slash
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 energ
Zed's main farming ability in the jungle. Clearing camps will be a matter of seconds with this skill and it also has a very low cooldown. This skill will be used during ganks to slow the enemy in combination with your Living Shadow and it will be your main DPS skill.
Hitting enemies with Shadow Slash also reduces the cooldown of your Living Shadow.
R: Death Mark
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.
This will be your initiation skill and gap closer. Zed will become untargetable, which makes him be able to dodge incoming skills and he will land in front of his target, while spawning a Living Shadow behind the target. A mark will be aplied to the target, which deals damage after 3 seconds equal to a percentage of the damage dealt during that time plus his total attack damage. Ignite will not increase the damage dealt by the mark.
He can press his ultimate a second time to switch positions with his Living Shadow , similar to his W skill.
Skill Order> > >
Maxing his E means faster clearing times. Leveling this skill also increases the slow of your shadow, which helps you out during ganks, because this is his only CC.
Leveling Q thereafter gives you more damage. Zed's burst will be depending on hitting both his and his shadow's Q when the target it slowed.
W will be maxed last. It is more useful lategame and one point early is enough to get the benefits for his other two skills.
Boots of Speed and Health Pots helps you move through the jungle quickly and to be able to keep up with the lanes when going for a gank.
First trip back:or
Vampiric Scepter or Pickaxe will be the first items after the initial jungle clear depending on how your gank went at level 3 or 4.
Bilgwater Cutlass, Brutalizer and Ionian Boots of Lucidity in that particular order.
Cutlass isn't a very popular item for AD casters, because it can only be build into a Gunblade, but for Zed as a jungler it is a must. This item provides the necessary Lifesteal and Attack Damage to clear the jungle like a king while maintaining high health and the active of the Cutlass perfectly fits Zed, because he lacks the CC to stick to his target as an assassin. The active slows a target enemy 50% for 3 seconds and deals an additional 150 magic damage. It is like having an extra exhaust on the target and Zed fully benefits from all it's stats. The 150 extra magic damage dealt will also be taken into account when triggering his Death Mark . It may be unconventional building this item, but give it a shot, because it works amazingly well.
(Cutlass will be build into a Blade of the Ruined King in Season 3, so it won't get wasted in the future)
The Brutalizer will be build next to increase your early game damage. It will also give you the welcoming cooldown reduction. Both these items are really cost efficient for the damage you will dish out and stats you receive.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity will be build after the Cutlass and Brutalizer to increase your cooldown reduction. You won't survive long enough during teamfights to make fully use of Merc's or Tabi's and your job is to eleminate the enemy AD or AP Carry, so it is important to do as much damage as you can while you are alive. Having your skills off cooldown faster can be the difference between killing your enemy or letting him escape with 10 hp.
The BloodThirster and Guardian Angel provides you lots of AD and enough tankiness for you to kill the target. Having a fully stacked BloodThirster gives you an additional 100 Attack Damage, which will also gives your skills a boost and it works well with the passive of your W . By having a Guardian Angel, you can maintain the stacks of the BloodThister and stay long enough alive to kill the enemy. If you die trying, you will get a second chance to finish the job and these two items synergizes well with eachother.
The Last Whisper will be eventually bought, because of the huge amount of armor the enemies will have lategame. It is also a cheap item, compared to the benefits you will be getting from it.
Maw of Malmortius and Frozen Mallet can be bought if the situation ask for it. For example, when facing double AP, an early Hexdrinker could save your life many times and Zed benefits from its AD.
A Frozen Mallet could replace the Cutlass if you feel you are too squishy, but compared to the Cutlass your ganking power will be crippled a lot (25% chance to slow the enemy 30% for 2 secs with a phage vs. a guaranteed 50% slow for 3 secs ). However, it will prodives additional tankiness and a Mallet will be far more useful lategame, because of its guaranteed slow and health it provides.
What not to build:
Doran's Blades and Wriggle's Lantern are the two items I see most Zeds build as their first items. I have tried it and building Doran's will delay your core build too much. It does give a good amount of Health, HP and Lifesteal, but it will not increase your ganking potential as much as with Bilgwater Cutlass .
The reason I don't build Wriggle's Lantern on Zed, is because he already got a very fast jungle clearing time with his AoE skills. Although Zed benefits from all of the stats, it doesn't help you stick to the target as with a Cutlass or Phage . The reason of building Cutlass is, because it provides you with a good amount of AD and Lifesteal for the price you pay for the item and the Active slow will net you some kills for you to snowball.
You should focus on farming early game. He can easily get bullied and invaded by duelers, like Lee Sin and Shaco . There are two routes to take. No matter on which side you spawn (Blue or Purple), the main point is to finish at the top side of the jungle for a level 3 or level 4 gank at mid or top lane.
Blue side starts with Wraiths > Red Golem (leash) > Wolves > Wraiths > Blue Golem > Gank or Recall.
Purple side starts with Wolves > Blue Golem > Wraiths > Wolves > Red Golem > Gank or Recall.
Or you could get a strong leash from your teammates to save your smite for the second buff. The route would then be:
Blue Side starts with Wraiths > Red Golem (strong leash and save smite) > Wolves > Blue (smite) > Gank
Purple Side starts with Wolves > Blue Golem (strong leash and save smite) > Wraiths > Red (smite) > Gank
If there is a chance you will get camped at your red as it is the case when you are facing a Shaco, you must try to start at your Red to stay one step ahead of him. I learned this the hard way after facing the same shaco three times in a row. Zed's early game dueling power is weak, because he will come out of the jungle with low hp.
You should aim for a level 3 or level 4 gank at mid or top after clearing the jungle. The combos used for ganking will be explained in the combo section down below.
Ganking will be a lot easier after acquiring your ultimate. Now you got an additional gap closer as an initiation. You should try to gank a lane each time your ultimate is up and farm the jungle when your ultimate is on cooldown. Also try to counter jungle as much as you can meanwhile, because you will be clearing camps in a couple of seconds. When counterjungling you should try to save your Living Shadow as an escape instead of using it to farm the camps.
Ninja TricksMastering Zed's Living Shadow is key to become a good Zed player. Down below are some examples in which you can utilize your Shadow. Notice how the range of the skill is slightly longer than the indicator.
Shortcut Stealing Red from Blue Side
Make use of the Baron pit to save time reaching the enemy Red.
Shortcut Stealing Red from Purple Side
Make use of the Dragon pit to save time reaching the enemy Red.
Ganking bot from Purple Side when teammates are pushed back to the tower
This is one of my favourite surprise ganking spots. When the enemy is attacking your tower, it is possible to use your Shadow to dash over the wall and chain it into your Ultimate, netting you some lovely kills.
Ganking top from Blue Side when teammate is getting pressured by the enemy top lane
Same as with bot lane. Combine it with your ultimate for some easy kills.
Ganking combo pre-6:
near to your target -> immediately after -> switch positions with your shadow to be closer to your target -> AA/Cutlass Active (-> ( if there is a killing potential, else harass with) -> hit the slowed target -> AA
This will be the basic combo you need to learn. It is important to Shadow Slash right after placing the Shadow to hit the slow, because the range of Shadow Slash is very low (point blank). Only use exhaust if you know the enemy will not get away with his flash or dash skills. Playing lots of games gives you the experience to make the right decision.
Ganking combo post-6:
There are several ways to gank post-6. If you are close enough in range for you to initiate with your ultimate, the combo should look like this:
-> Cutlass Active to stick to your target -> immediately after to deal damage -> to switch position with your shadow so you gain extra distance -> AA (-> use exhaust if necessary) -> the slowed enemy -> AA
(-> if your enemy flashes away to catch up -> slow the target with your shadow -> switch positions with your shadow -> AA)
(-> alternatively Place your shadow at your escape route -> Switch positions with your shadow -> E to slow potential following enemies -> Walk away)
This combo should be completed in a second or 3 or 4. The reason Zed is hard to play is because there are a lot of variables. "Will the enemy get away?", "Should I use my exhaust or can I get the kill without using it?", "Should I hold on to my Living Shadow to use it as an escape or chase skill?" and so on. You need to react in split seconds to the situation to pull off a succesful combo.
If an enemy is very low you could attempt a dive or a surpise gank over the wall by using the following combo:
Place the shadow over the wall -> Switch positions with the shadow -> Dash to your target -> Slow and damage the target -> Hit the slowed target -> AA -> Walk away like a boss while seeing your enemy explode
Dashing over walls will surprise your enemies and hit them when they expect it the least. Time your ult wisely to avoid the first tower shot.
You should NEVER, EVER initiate a teamfight. You will be very squishy with this build and it is important to dive in at the right moment. Go in for the kill after the tank or someone else in your team initiates the fight and dive straight to the enemy Carry.
Make use of your double W to get in range with your ultimate if it is necessary or keep it as an escape when you are already in range for your ultimate. Try to exhaust the target immediately to reduce damage taken and to stay in range for your other skills.
When going all in:
-> Gain distance for your ult -> -> and -> -> Switch positions or juke -> -> AA
When in range for your ultimate without using Living Shadows:
-> and -> -> Switch positions or juke -> -> AA -> Place shadow at the escape route -> Switch positions with your shadow -> Slow chasing enemies -> Walk away
A little trick to help you shrug off chasing enemies:
Place shadow at the escape direction -> Switch with your shadow -> Slow chasing enemies
Challenging the communityI'm having great succes lately with this build and hereby I am challenging this community to beat my 18/2/6 score using the build described in this guide. Post your scores in the comment section below!
Final CommentsZed is a very fun champion to learn and to play with and he got a very high skill cap, which is one of the main reason I like him so much. It takes a while to make use of his full potential, but he is a force to be reckon with if not focussed in teamfights. The key in being a good Zed is having a good timing, positioning and to be able to unleash the right combo and the right time. Will you be able to master the shadows?
ps. Guide rework will be done once the patch goes live and after a thorough testing.