Zoe can be one of the most frustrating League of Legends champions to face in the mid lane.
She has a ton of burst and area-of-effect damage that can delete entire teams. While she isn’t blind-pickable, she can go up against most compositions in the later stages of the draft quite easily. She begins her dominance at level six once she has access to her ultimate, allowing you to make flashy plays from fog of war and delete opponents in the blink of an eye.
But even with all her strengths, she still has some weaknesses you can use to defeat her. Here are the best counter picks to beat Zoe in the mid lane.
Zoe excels at using her Paddle Star! (Q) to clear waves and poke enemies down heavily during the laning phase. She usually throws it behind her to increase the distance travelled and its damage. As a result, her gameplay is quite predictable during the early stages. Avoid clumping up next to your minions so she doesn’t wave clear and poke you down at the same time.
One of the more annoying parts of Zoe’s kit is her Spell Thief (W), which allows her to pick up summoner spells and items from certain creatures, so it’s important to keep track of the enemies which are about to drop something and engage Zoe so that she doesn’t get a free item or spell to use. If she does, she can poke you down quite heavily due to the help of her passive, which lets her do additional damage after using a spell. This can easily add up to a lot early on when health pools are low.
The last part of Zoe’s kit is Sleepy Trouble Bubble (E) which can travel through walls and is her kit’s only crowd control. If you avoid it and the zone it creates, you should be fine most of the time. Her Q might do a lot of damage but it isn’t usually enough to kill you.
Zed is one of the best counters to Zoe since she has a predictable movement pattern which you can abuse and poke her down every time she attempts something in lane.
While he does have a melee kit and will rely on his abilities early on, once you get a couple of levels and poke Zoe down, you should be able to get into melee range to finish her off with your passive and ignite.
When Zoe tries to use her Paddle Star to clear waves, look for her movement and use your Living Shadow (W) in her movement pattern, Shadow Slash (E) for some damage, and then try to hit a double Razor Shuriken (Q). A couple of these combos early on and she should burn through her health potions, making her an easy target for an all-in. Next time you do the combo, you can swap with your Living Shadow to do an auto, ignite, and activate your passive for a kill.
If you set her behind early on and force her into defensive items, you’ll be free to roam around the map and help side lanes. While Zoe will be busy trying to clear the mid lane, you can pick up kills in the top or bottom lanes or even invade the enemy jungler. She won’t be able to follow, and if she attempts to, you can turn on her and kill her again.
If you did everything correctly, you should be quite ahead and in control of the game from the mid lane. With the game decided by your pace, you can look to either roam or pick up towers in the mid lane. In teamfights, go for flanks to surprise Zoe and kill her before she can react, giving your team a clean five-vs-four teamfight. If she doesn’t Zhonya, you should be able to take her down with your combo easily if you have enough lethality. If she does have it, however, try to force Zhonya’s with your basic combo, then ultimate once she is out for the killing blow.
Syndra is a safer counter pick to Zoe since she is ranged, doesn’t need to take risks to do damage with her spheres and can wait for Zoe to walk to the minion wave before unleashing a deadly combo.
During the laning phase, try to poke down Zoe with your Dark Sphere (Q) while also last hitting minions with it. By combining this, you’ll make sure not to fall behind on farm and force the enemy to play more defensive. As you level up and get access to other abilities, look for your spheres’ positioning on the ground from the Dark Sphere ability and try to land a Scatter of the Weak (E) once Zoe used her Paddle Star ability. This way, you can unleash your entire kit damage while she will not be able to do anything but run.
By keeping control over your spheres, you can repeat this combo. Once you’re level six, you can kill her easily with the help of your ultimate. Just make sure not to expose yourself to her Paddle Star or Sleepy Trouble Bubble.
With the lane won, you can also try to roam or pick up the middle lane tower, which will open up more plays for your team—just avoid pushing too hard if you have no vision. If Zoe gets back into the game, she can become a huge nuisance for both you and your team.
Once the game gets into the later stages of the game, as Syndra you can usually kill people with just your ultimate if you have enough ability power. Zoe likes to dive in with her ultimate to land her Paddle Star to do a lot of damage, which can even kill your ADC usually if he isn’t careful. As a result, try to keep an eye on her and if she tries this all-in, throw your combo on her and ultimate as she goes back. This will usually be more than enough to kill her if she doesn’t have defensive items or someone to protect her with heals or shields.
Galio is a more defensive champion to counter Zoe with. He excels at setting up ganks and moving around the map rather than being a direct counter to Zoe on the lane.
Thanks to your tankiness and magic-oriented kit, you can easily survive the laning phase and poke down Zoe. If she tries to go for aggressive plays, you can always go for a Justice Punch (E), Winds of War (Q), and Shield of Durand (W) combo. Even without a lot of ability power, this combo will do a lot of damage early on, allowing you to set up solo kills or, if you cannot kill her alone, set up a kill for your jungler.
As the game goes by and you reach level six, you can make plays across the entire map, while she will be stuck farming mid lane. It’s important to use your abilities to shove the mid lane into her before you do roams. In this way she will have to sacrifice a lot of experience and gold if she wants to follow.
In the later stages of the game, you can front line for your team with a tanky build and soak up incoming damage. Due to your huge hit box, she won’t be able to dish out any damage to your teammates as long as they stick behind you. If you go for a more AP-oriented build, try to aim your Q where she teleports from or where she lands. It can do a lot of damage and force her to play more defensive.
This is one of the best boots options when facing Zoe. On top of the early magic resist that can reduce her damage by a lot, it reduces incoming crowd control as well, reducing the window which Zoe has to do damage with her Sleepy Trouble Bubble and Paddle Star combo.
This item is great if you’re facing a team with a lot of crowd control. You can rush it early on against Zoe if she is running an aggressive Electrocute and Ignite build to be able to cleanse her crowd control if you misstep and run to safety.
This is a great AP-defensive item early on, giving you a lot of magic resist. If the enemy is running more AP-oriented champions, look to acquire this item to make you unkillable while they have no magic penetration.
An early bruiser-oriented AD item, giving you some needed magic resist and a shield to protect you if you get too low. The stats from it are great and it’s an amazing item to rush if you’re having issues early on. It can protect you from getting burst down by Zoe.