Who is Zed, and why you should play him
In League of Legends, Zed is the leader of the Order of Shadows in Ionia, the enemy faction of the Kinkou Order and Ionia itself. Notorious for his ruthlessness and lack of mercy, he is a powerful ninja who learnt and mastered the forbidden shadow form — a type of spiritual magic that is extremely corrupting and extremely dangerous. With the ability to manipulate this shadow art, Zed strikes fear into his enemies hearts and takes their life before they even know it.
In-game, Zed is a high-damage, single-target assassin that has one of the most flexible kits in League of Legends. He has decent poke, trades, and all-ins, as well as one of the flashiest ultimate combos if done correctly. His mobility is slippery and makes him hard to catch, making a master of this champion extremely hard to stop while he freely takes out the enemy carry. Zed also is relatively easy to pick up despite the common misconception of being extremely difficult. He does, however, have a high skill ceiling with the vast amount of combos he can use in specific situations, with flashy moves that can really impress others when you pull it off successfully.
Contempt for the Weak (Passive)
Basic attacks that hit target’s below 50% of their maximum health is dealt an additional six to 10 percent of their max health as bonus magic damage, based on your level. Against monsters this damage is increased by 100%, capping at 200, 350, and 500 based on your level. Contempt for the Weak can only proc on the same target once every ten seconds.
This passive allows Zed to easily farm during the laning phase, as he can easily CS minions with the extra magic damage. When proccing the passive on enemy champions, its extra damage allows for an extra short burst for both trading and finishing off an enemy. This passive can be best described as “the icing on the cake” as it’s not overly strong or weak per say, but it’s enough to fit into combos and finishing desired targets.
Razor Shuriken (Q)
Zed throws a shuriken that deals physical damage and goes through all enemies. The damage is reduced to 60% beyond the first target. If Zed has a shadow active due to his Living Shadow (W) or Death Mark (R), the shadow will also cast a shuriken with Zed.
Source: Riot Games
This ability allows Zed to poke from afar. It has a nice range, reaching further than most AD (attack damage) carry basic attack ranges, and can also be used to safely farm if behind in lane. Combined with his Living Shadow, Zed can effectively nearly double his range, or double his shuriken damage by duplicating it.
It’s a good ability with a short cooldown of six seconds, which if you build Duskblade of Draktharr and Youmuu’s Ghostblade (the core items on any AD assassin), you’re effectively lowering Zed’s Razor Shuriken to nearly four and a half seconds. A good deal shorter than a lot of other champion abilities, as well as being an effective poking tool. With Zed being an energy-based champion, his resource bar regenerates faster than a champion that uses mana, allowing you to poke consistently for far longer.
Living Shadow (W)
Zed throws out a shadow of himself which can mimic Razor Shuriken and Shadow Slash (E). Within a five-second time frame, Zed can choose to cast time ability again and swap places with his shadow. Whenever Zed and his shadow land the same ability on a target, Zed restores a portion of his energy.
Source: Riot Games
This is the bread and butter ability of Zed. It can act as an escape, a gap closer, and is his primary combo starter. Zed struggles to do anything against an enemy without this ability. With its lengthy cooldown, Zed can be severely punished if he’s not careful. You can use this ability to ward dangerous locations as it provides vision to your team. Keep in mind as it is a gap closer, if Zed is grounded by an enemy ability, you can throw out your shadow, but cannot swap places with it.
Another thing to mention about Zed’s Living Shadow is the arrow indicator. When Zed has a shadow out, the arrow indicator will always point in the direction of the shadow with a color corresponding to the current state of the shadow. If the arrow is green, Zed can freely swap places with the shadow. If it’s yellow, the shadow is about to disappear. And if the arrow is red, Zed is unable to swap to the shadow.
Shadow Slash (E)
Zed spins and deals physical damage to everything around him in a small area. Enemies hit by Shadow Slash are slowed by 1.5 seconds. Coupled with Zed’s shadows, multiple Shadow Slashes do not deal additional damage but instead increases the slows potency by 50%. Each enemy champion struck by this ability lowers Zed’s Living Shadow cooldown by two seconds.
Source: Riot Games
Shadow Slash is Zed’s only form of crowd control. It’s also used to primarily slow enemy champions to help land Zed’s Razor Shurikens. Its damage is decent, able to wave clear well. It also has no cast time nor animation interference, meaning you can cast this ability freely and smoothly with Zed’s other abilities. An example of this is during Zed’s Living Shadow animation, you can buffer Shadow Slash to instantly cast as the shadow appears, often catching enemies off guard. Keep in mind, Shadow Slash’s ability to lower the cooldown on Living Shadow must be dealt by Zed himself and cannot be done through a shadow.
Death Mark (R)
The most iconic and signature ability of Zed. He becomes untargetable for 0.6 seconds and can dash through the target enemy champion, marking them. For the next three seconds, the marked target stores a percentage of damage dealt by Zed and his shadows. After the three seconds expires, the stored damage detonates and deals physical damage to the target. As well as this, Zed becomes ghosted for three seconds and spawns a shadow from the location where he casted Death Mark from. This shadow lasts for 6.5 seconds instead of five and can be swapped back to by recasting Death Mark.
Source: Riot Games
This is the outplay ability of Zed. It is also one of the reasons why he is so slippery compared to a lot of other assassins. Being untargetable allows Zed to dodge abilities that would otherwise be dangerous, and with the addition of another shadow to mimic his abilities, his damage output is exponentially increased for that duration. The delayed detonating damage also allows for Zed time to maneuver away from kills safely, often leading to flashy exits and executing your targets in style.
In the early game, while not the weakest champion, Zed finds it hard to fully do anything apart from throwing his Razor Shurikens. Once he reaches level 3 and is able to all-in, he becomes a lot more dangerous. From here on out, with the ability to close distances between himself and his target using his Living Shadow, Zed is also an effective roamer and ganker.
Zed primarily is strong in 1v1s, often allowing him to be a decent split pusher depending on the champion matchups. He’s able to apply pressure to the map and make a slippery getaway. If you can’t split push, staying with the team is alright despite Zed’s lack of team fight potential. He can go after picks and at least secure the enemy backline carry and get out. Positioning and timing is a huge factor in these scenarios, so you must be smart in your engages or you might end up with a tank in your face.
Late-game Zed falls off a bit compared to a lot of other carries. Split-pushing all the time is most likely limited by now as the support and AD carry are probably strong enough to stop you now together, unless you are ahead. Stick with your team and find opportunities to exploit your enemies mistakes, like going for towers only when it’s safe to do so, and securing objectives with your team every other time you can’t fight.
Try and stay hidden so you can jump the enemy backline when a team fight ensures, and if you can take out the enemy AD carry (or the priority player on the enemy team), then you have done all you can for your team to clean up the fight.
Realistically speaking Zed is a carry in a sense that he can take out the carry from the enemy team quite easily. But compared to a lot of other hyper carries, Zed is limited to his high single target damage. He can clean up fights relative well due to his passive’s bonus damage, but his sustain damage is very low and instead, his strengths lie in his burst damage.
Now, there are a vast amount of combos with Zed, especially with his ultimate. I won’t be able to go through it all due to that very reason, so I’ll list one basic, intermediate, and an advanced combo to get a general idea on the combos of the champion. I’ll link down below a more in-depth combo guide video down below for those that actually want to learn how to use Zed’s other combos.
Start off with an easy combo: Shadow Slash and Razor Shuriken. Shadow Slash has no cast time and can buffer animations when used. Doing so allows you to cast both abilities together quickly and to put in an auto attack right after. It procs electrocute and if you do enough damage, you might be able to proc your passive for even more damage as well.
An intermediate and one of the most known combos is to throw out your Living Shadow, buffering your Shadow Slash to ensure a guaranteed strike and to slow your enemy. From there, you throw out your Razor Shurikens. If they are low enough for you to safely go in, swap with your shadow and proc your passive. You can just use the initial combo without swapping with your shadow for good poke damage and wave clear. With the electrocute rune, this is your all-in combo that should deal a lot of damage and potentially kill a squishy carry assuming you land both of your shurikens.
Throw your Living Shadow to a safe location where you can still strike an enemy. Use your ultimate Death Mark on the enemy to dodge anything cast at you. Once you come out of your ultimate, this is when most people cast their abilities at you. Swap with your Living Shadow instantly, instead of your Death Mark shadow (there is a small-time delay with your ultimate’s shadow). Cast your Razor Shurikens and Shadow Slash. If you have done this right, you should have hit your opponent with a Shadow Slash and three Razor Shurikens.
If you are in any danger of being killed, simply reactivate your Death Mark shadow again and swap back to safety. Against any skill shot based champion, this allows you to be very slippery and to even potentially get a kill while surviving.
Duskblade of Draktharr
The key essential item to Zed and any AD assassin. Its stats are amazing and its passive grants bonus damage coming from invisibility which just adds more burst potential. If you are not buying Youmuu’s Ghostblade first, this item is a must.
A very good item on Zed. Its stats are arguably the best of the lethality items, providing cooldown reduction as well. Its mobility with its active ability allows for roams and running away easier. I recommend this item over Duskblade first if you are ganking other lanes during the laning phase.
Edge of Night
A very defensive item for AD assassins and provides a spell shield. It’s essential for Zed as he wants to jump on enemy backlines during the later stages of the game, and being able to block one crowd control ability can mean everything in getting that kill. It’s a definite must for high crowd control enemy team comps.
A defensive item to be built when behind in the game or against tanky champions. It has high health, decent attack damage, but most of all, 20% cooldown reduction, allowing you to cast more abilities. It’s passive to gain movement speed when dealing damage and shred armor each time you do is very good against tanks.
Mortal Reminder/Lord Dominiks Regards
Armour penetration for those pesky tanks and bruisers. Not to mention those cowards that rush zhonyas hourglass as a mage, or guardian angel as an adc. Buy it, kill them. Mortal reminder for those that heal a lot.
Domination/Sorcery (Against AP Champions)
Zed is a decent champion that once mastered can wow many people. He can be a nightmare to his enemies, especially to AD carries down in the bot lane. He provides a lot of pressure in both the map and team fights because of this presence. His combos vary a lot, with high mobility as well which makes him difficult to predict and takedown if you play him right.
Zed’s sustain damage is weak after his initial combo, which makes him punishable once his abilities are down. He’s weak to most crowd control like most assassins are, and it really hinders his combos, so make sure to engage on the backline once there is no crowd control threat that can hinder you.
Overall he is a decent champion that rewards those that master his capabilities. He’s easy enough to pick up if you enjoy edgy and flash assassin play styles, and what’s not to love about being a ninja?
Zed tutorial combo guide: