League of Legends: ZZZ…zzz…ZZZ
By Jason Harper (Hhean), OnRPG Editor-in-Chief
As a high damage burst assassin, Zed’s only goal is to get into a weak enemy’s face and murder them in record time. Making use of his shadow clones, he can be highly mobile if he chooses, but does so at the cost of his damage output. While he can go jungle or top, he’s best suited to mid, where he gets to bully those soft, squishy mages. His playstyle is similar to other burst assassins like Katarina or Talon. Orianna players, already familiar with keeping track of her ball, may be at home with keeping track of Zed’s shadows.
Can scream “I’LL GET THOSE BLASTED NINJAS!” in all chat
Manaless energy user (When mid your jungler can use blue, letting Hecarim shine)
His ultimate allows him to melt squishy targets (If fed)
Very long range poke for a melee character
Has to burn his escape tools to crowd control enemies
Gets all of his mid to late game damage from his ultimate
High energy costs
His only means of regaining energy is highly unreliable
Terrible damage output without his clone
A gentle breeze could kill him
He’s an awful jungle choice
Very hard to play, with little room for error
Contempt for the weak [Passive]: Zed’s auto attacks deal more damage to people on low health.
Razor Shuriken [Q]: Linear skillshot thrown by Zed and his shadows. Deals more damage to the first target it hits. If a target is hit by multiple shurikens, the damage is halved on all hits after the first.
Living Shadow [W]: Linear skillshot that creates a shadow clone of Zed at the targeted location. Reactivating this ability will cause Zed to switch places with his shadow. If both Zed and a shadow hit the same target with the same ability, he gains energy.
Shadow Slash [E]: Zed and his shadows create an AoE around themselves, dealing damage. If an enemy is caught by a Shadow Slash made by a shadow, they’ll be slowed. If caught by multiple slashes, an enemy will get slowed even more, but won’t suffer additional damage.
Death Mark [R]: Targeted gap closer that summons a shadow behind Zed’s victim. Like his Living Shadow, the shadow made from this ability can be switched to. After a few seconds, a percentage of all damage dealt during that timespan, plus Zed’s current attack damage, will be dealt to the unfortunate target. In correct combination with the rest of his kit, Dark Mark will make people explode.
Combos & Shenanigans
The whole of Zed’s kit revolves around the many different uses for his shadow clones, and the way they interact with the rest of his kit. If you’re playing against a Zed and don’t know what to do, just remember this golden rule: You will win any damage trade with him if his Living Shadow is on cooldown, so press him hard immediately after his shadow clone disappears. Even worse, since Living Shadow is his only escape tool, he’ll have no way of getting out if you bring some friends along.
His basic combo for leaping in or escaping is Living Shadow, Shadow Slash, Reactivate Living Shadow, Razor Shuriken, Shadow Slash. It’s always important to hit an enemy with a shadow slash before you switch to get the slow, preventing escape or stalling your pursuers. Add in auto attacks when leaping in to trigger a bit of extra damage from his passive.
When harassing, throwing out a clone to extend the reach of his Shuriken can be quite effective, but it wastes a lot of damage, and wastes Zed’s all important Living Shadow on mundane harass. If you can, always try to hit an enemy with both Shadow Slash and at least one shuriken to make the use of a shadow worth it.
A really annoying part of the way that his shadow is summoned is that it’s done as a skillshot, not simply ground targeting. This means that when casting through walls, if the wall is slightly too thick, it won’t auto correct to the side of the wall you want to wind up on. Oh, no. You’ll just get a shadow right next to you, smiling happily and saying “I’m helping!”
When using his ultimate, make sure Zed’s Living Shadow is off cooldown and his energy bar is full. Before going in you need to decide how you’re going to use his Living Shadow. Either hold onto it until after you open with his ultimate for more damage, and cut off lines of escape, throw it behind you before leaping in to act as a bungie cord or use it to close distance before leaping in with Death Mark.
Once the mark is on them, blow everything you have as quickly as possible, slowing the enemy, hurling shurikens at them and hitting them with ignite if you have it. With everything on cooldown, teleport as needed for auto attacks or escape, and wait for the secondary damage from the Death Mark to finish them off.
More often than not though, even using everything you have won’t be enough to kill even the squishiest targets.
I want to like Zed, but the fact that he’s awful in every conceivable way just keeps getting in the way. Call me petty, but I just can’t get over that little hurdle. If Zed was a real person, I’d smack him upside his masked face so he’d get off the damn couch, go to the gym and man the hell up.
While he’s manaless, his energy costs are titanic. The only way he can refund his energy investment is by using an ability that costs half of his energy to begin with, and has an exceptionally long cooldown. Even then, you have a good chance of missing with one of his abilities, stopping any hope of an energy refund. Think pre-rework Shen, but even more punishing.
It’s also telling when a character’s defining characteristic on an incredibly long cooldown. When you look at Zed’s abilities it looks like he’s going to be flying all over the place, making shadows appear and disappear while juking multiple foes into submission. Instead what you get is a one use ability that often has to be blown just to keep his damage above a support. Even worse, while his Shadow Slash has a very short cooldown, since he only gets access to his only crowd control from the shadow he has to kill his enemies extremely quickly or else he won’t be able to slow them again for (in the early levels) twenty seconds. Compared to the chain slows of Skarner, or the rapid mobility of Lee Sin, Zed just falls short.
It’s not just those two though. When you compare him against just about any other assassin or bruiser, he loses out not just in mobility, utility and durability but also in damage. In order for Zed to become more useful, he not only would need some major buffs (which he sorely needs), but the game’s meta is going to need to be seeing some serious shake ups for him to be seen as anything close to viable. Perhaps the AD assassin mid lane will take off, and he’ll be seen as a good option, but don’t expect that to be any time soon.
Don’t play under any circumstances. Consider banning him in draft just so no-one on your team can use him.
To discuss Zed yourselves, post in the massive League of Legends thread in the free to play MMOs section, or post in the comments section below. If you haven’t tried League of Legends yet, you’re missing out.