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Image via Riot Games

Best Zed build in League of Legends

"The unseen blade is the deadliest."

In League of Legends, there are few champions more popular than Zed. Since he debuted in 2012, he’s been heralded as one of the most fun assassins to play in the mid lane, while at the same time being one of the toughest to master.

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Zed’s kit is fairly simple to play and navigate. In this simplicity, however, lies the true aspect of playing the Master of Shadows. Only a few are able to maximize his potential, and when they do, incredible highlights can be made, like the iconic Faker play in 2013.

Nothing is impossible, though. With the proper build, runes, and a few tips here and there, you can improve on Zed tremendously, which will help you to conquer the solo queue ladder.

Here is one of the best builds for Zed in League season 12.

Runes

Screengrab via Riot Games

Domination

Electrocute: At first, let’s get to the basics. Zed is a champion that will aim to spam abilities as much as he can. Due to being reliant on energy instead of mana and having fairly short cooldowns on his skills, using your Q and E all the time shouldn’t be much of a problem. To increase your damage and potential overall, both in the early and late game, you should be picking Electrocute.

It’s a rune that makes you deal additional adaptive damage if you hit the enemy at least three times within three seconds. And because you’re going to do that in 99 percent of cases, choosing Electrocute is basically self-explanatory.

Taste Of Blood: In League, assassins don’t have that much health, and they don’t really go for items that boost their HP either. Some items that you’ll obtain throughout the game will grant you lifesteal, but still, that might not always be enough. Therefore, by going for Taste of Blood, you’re going to buy yourself some more time and survivability in skirmishes and teamfights.

Eyeball Collection: As an assassin, players should aim to get as many takedowns under their belt as fast as possible. Starting your snowball before your enemies is a pivotal element of gameplay when playing champs like Zed. To maximize your growth and snowball potential, Eyeball Collection should be picked. With it, players will gain additional adaptive damage with every kill they score.

Ultimate Hunter: Last but not least, we’ve got Ultimate Hunter in the Domination tree. It admirably decreases the cooldown on Zed’s ultimate, which is single-handedly the Master of Shadows’ most important ability. With it, try to eliminate every opponent at least once, to maximize the advantages you receive.

Sorcery

Transcendence: While there are a few different alternatives for the main rune tree and its choices, there hardly are any for the second tree. Sorcery is easily the best one since it offers you options like Transcendence. This will greatly decrease your cooldowns, and furthermore, will also do so post level 11 when you score a takedown. It’s a superb choice on Zed.

Scorch: Scorch can also do wonders on Zed. Players are going to basically enhance the damage they do with their abilities, which is one of the main goals while playing the champ.

Bonuses: +9 adaptive force, +9 adaptive force, +8 magic resist

Starting items

Screengrab via Riot Games

Long Sword

Zed is an attack damage assassin, so increasing this major statistic on him will also improve the damage he deals with his abilities. When starting the game, there are hardly better alternatives than going for Long Sword. This item is a key part of any other core or late-game items in Zed builds, so it’s a perfect start for you.

Refillable Potion

Zed has no sustain or survivability in his abilities whatsoever. As we mentioned before, the champion aims to control the game and start snowballing early. Your opponents will be perfectly aware of this, and therefore, are going to try shutting you down as quickly as they can. To increase your chances of going through the early game without a scratch, it’s a great idea to obtain a Refillable Potion when the match begins.

Core items

Screengrab via Riot Games

Eclipse

In today’s League meta, having a Mythic item that in its unique way boosts your other Legendary items is essential. When it comes to Zed, there are a couple of viable Mythic item options, but going for Eclipse is probably the best one.

First, it comes along with 55 attack damage, 18 lethality, and eight-percent omnivamp. Those stats are pivotal for Zed since he relies on having as high AD and lethality as he can. What’s more, Eclipse is going to empower your Legendary items with four percent armor penetration, which should come in handy in season 12’s meta, where AD hyper carries are one of the biggest threats on Summoner’s Rift. Because of them, the rival team will probably stack a lot of armor throughout the match.

Youmuu’s Ghostblade

This is another brilliant item for Zed. Youmuu’s Ghostblade boosts your ability haste, attack damage, and lethality by 15, 55, and 18, respectively. Thus, as we said above, it increases your major stats. Furthermore, with Zed, as with any other AD-based assassin, players should focus on effectively closing the gap between them and enemy carries. With this item’s unique active ability, you’ll gain an impressive amount of movement speed for six seconds, which should help you in countless situations.

Ionian Boots of Lucidity

When playing the Master of Shadows, players will want to have the lowest cooldown possible on their skills. Therefore, when it comes to picking your shoes, you should go for Ionian Boots of Lucidity most of the time. They offer you 20 ability haste. But in some games, you can swap them for Plated Steelcaps or Mercury’s Threads, depending on the state of the match and what certain champions the enemy team is made of.

Late-game items

Screengrab via Riot Games

The Collector

For some players, The Collector remains one of the most broken items in League as of now. And, as it turns out, it fits Zed perfectly. Once again, we’ve found ourselves an item that admirably enhances his attack damage, lethality, and gives you a 20-percent boost in critical strike chance. It also gives you a unique passive, which will basically make you execute champions if you deal post-mitigation damage that would leave them below five percent of their health. With The Collector, Zed will become a major threat to opponents’ tanks and bruisers.

Lord Dominik’s Regards

In 99 percent of scenarios, enemies are going to build armor against Zed, especially since, as we’ve explained, you will also have some other AD-based champs by your side. So to counter the enormous amounts of armor your rivals will stack, having Lord Dominik’s Regards, which grants you 35 armor penetration (and a few other stats as well), is essential.

Ravenous Hydra

To round out your aggressive, all-in build, one of the most sensible picks is Ravenous Hydra. The item will boost your potential to the limits since it grants its buyer 20 ability haste, 70 attack damage, and 10 percent omnivamp. With this item under your belt, you should be able to one-shot any squishy champ on the server.

Situational items

Screengrab via Riot Games

Axiom Arc

Luckily for players, there are a lot of flexible items that work on Zed perfectly. Axiom Arc is one of them. While it’s not compulsory, it can easily be found in a build on the Master of Shadows. No player would disregard having additional 25 ability haste, 55 attack damage, and 10 lethality. Axiom Arc also comes along with a passive that tremendously reduces the cooldown of your ultimate, if you kill an enemy within three seconds of damaging them.

Edge of Night

As an enormously dangerous assassin, Zed will remain one of the first targets to be taken down during crucial, late-game teamfights. Some team comps will be composed of champions with many crowd control tools, so it’s best to omit as many of them as you can. To boost your chances of survival and not getting caught, purchase Edge of Night, which improves your key stats and grants you a shield with a short cooldown.

Essence Reaver

Essence Reaver can be obtained instead of any other non-core items on this list. It grants you attack damage and ability haste, like most of the choices here, but it swaps lethality with critical strike chance. If you’re going for a more crit-oriented build, Essence Reaver is an amazing substitute.

Serylda’s Grudge

Serylda’s Grudge is similar to Lord Dominik’s Regards in terms of increasing your armor penetration since it gives you another 30 points of this stat. So when playing against many tanks and bruisers, it’s basically mandatory to have it. What’s more, it makes your abilities slow the enemies they hit, so in teamfights, you’re going to be able to catch squishes more efficiently.

Black Cleaver

At the end of the list, we’ve got two items that only make sense in certain situations. Black Cleaver gives you an admirable amount of health (450), so it’s amazing when playing against really powerful compositions where you need a little more survivability. Black Cleaver also reduces the target’s armor once you hit them, so it’s going to boost your damage against bruisers and tanks.

Hullbreaker

In the end, we’ve got Hullbreaker, which really only makes sense when you’re splitpushing. And although it’s unlikely, sometimes players will have to play from behind, and to catch up, they’re going to be forced to splitpush and gain gold through side lanes and objective bounties. Thus, to maximize your splitpush potential, obtain Hullbreaker, which increases your (and your minions’) damage to structures when no allies are nearby.


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Ryan Galloway
Ryan is a Senior Staff Writer for Dot Esports who has been working at GAMURS since 2020. He covers a wide variety of titles from across the gaming space, with a focus on Pokémon. He boasts a degree in Journalism from Murdoch University. Email: ryan@dotesports.com
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