Zilean Build Guide

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Zilean - The Time F*cker

written by Kusaryuu

Zilean Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Welcome to an AP/Support guide for Zilean by Kusaryuu

    Zilean is a fun character to play and when done right you will piss the enemy team off severely. Don't think this is because you will get mass kills though, it's because Zilean is a good harasser and support for his team. With the moves he has it will be very hard to get killed and pushed back with him but if you get careless some well timed stuns without proper items could easily get you killed.

    The best way I find to play him is to pair up with another teammate, preferably a tank. While he can push a single enemy back, if they have played against Zilean before and know his long recast timers or have a stun, then they will have you on the run. Zilean is a lot of running in to lay down support or a bomb, and then lots of running a little out of the fray because he is not a tank.

    He needs AP, CD Reductions and Magic Penetration. While you will not likely get more than 5-10 killshots a game with Zilean, boosting your ability power(AP) helps immensely in frays. His time bomb will damage all enemies within a few feet of the target it's on. The more AP, the more damage this move does, and while on one person it may only take a small chunk out, it will be a nice small chunk against all those near him too. His moves have a long Cool down, so getting a few cooldown items will help a ton.

    At 18 with my build I don't have any mana issues but at the beginning you will have a lot. Zilean 1-10 is hit and run. You pretty much NEED Clarity early on to have any lane staying power at all.

    Fixed a lot of errors, spelling and slips. Should be a lot better now.

  • Abilities

    Heightened Learning
    Works for the whole team. Nothing wrong with extra exp.

    Time Bomb
    This is an amazing fray and harassing tool, does around 330 AoE dmg(at max upgrade) when it explodes with a 0.9 AP multiplier. It's even more effective when the person you set it on runs into their friend and it hits them both. People tend to bunch up together. This isn't a massive dmg move, but early on it will take 1/4th of their health away. Toss on 4 and you have an early kill.

    Rewind will be used a lot. It will basically reset your Time Warp to give your team more boosts, or an enemy more slow, as well as reset your Time Bomb. When you lay a Time Bomb, if you hit rewind you can immediately lay another bomb on the enemy again, causing the first to explode immediately and start the fuse for the new one. Great for finishing off or just harassing.

    Time Warp
    Let's do the time warp again... Let's do the time warp again!
    Okay... I had to. Time warp has 2 amazing purposes. It can slow an enemy or be used on you or an ally to raise speed. There has been times when I was about to be killed and had no Ult up and this had saved me. Paired with rewind you can put on multiple targets, or put it back on the same one when it wears off. TW + Rewind + TW can get you and a friend safely away.

    Chrono Shift
    As if being able to get away with TW wasn't amazing enough to keep you from dying, you or an ally if you put it on them can become invincible. Well, you still die, but it shields you and if you die you get brought back to life and can get away safely. While this keeps your death count well below 5 if you play Zilean properly, don't be afraid to put this on a stronger team mate and bite the bullet. If you are in the enemies base and he is doing more damage than you or is a tank do it. You will die without him afterwords anyway. Experience will help your judgment on this.

  • Working in the team

    Zilean is at his best when he is with other team mates. Being able to speed up allies, save them from death and low allies makes you great support. Having time bombs and rewind will allow you to deal really amazing dmg in frays when enemies are stacking on eachother.

    You need to be cautious with Zilean but not afraid. Don't run into ppl, you are not melee and you will die with a stun. Do not run too far off and leave your tank with 3 enemies. Just make sure you are at a casting range away from the fray and laying down bombs while supporting the tank. If someone is on you time warp them and be ready to hit your ult on either yourself or your ally.

    He is really a team player, don't expect killshots or a lot of soloing.

  • Masteries + Runes

    9/0/21 is more or less the only way to go with Zilean. You have to have all the CD Reductions and mana regenerations. You can see an exact copy Here. You don't need to follow exactly what I chose, some of them like extra gold are fillers. If you find something better you can get it instead, make it match your own play style.

    For runes you will want more of the same thing as explained before, CD reduction, mana regen and magic penetration.

    Greater Mark of Insight
    Greater Glyph of Focus
    Greater Seal of Clarity
    Greater Quintessence of Focus

    Max of each is my typical mastery set. Some of the focus runes can be replaced if you feel you need more health or mana, but I prefer the -CD. Credit actually goes to Yulgash for the runes, I checked his guide when I first started.

  • Items

    I always start off with a Ruby Crystal. I need the health at the start even though you also need mana. This may cause you to die if you don't take it first, it has for me a few times the 80 health has saved me, though same can be said for sapphire and health pots. Try both and see which works best at start for you.

    Second you will want that mana(or health if you started with sapphire, the main point is to get Cata crystal out as soon as possible). Get a Sapphire Crystal next. This will help you staying in the lane better. It's about 425g, so try to stay in the lane using clarity until your gold builds up, then you can recall back and get it.

    Third you need movement speed, by now your enemies have prolly already got theirs, but you needed health AND mana. Boots of Speed is all you need for now.
    Next you want to upgrade your crystals to Catalyst the Protector, earlier the better so you can get the level up benefit from it. While this is a stepping stone for your rod of ages, until you save it and have completed your core, you will get tons of use from this, great lane staying power. It should last you till 12-15 or so depending on your gold income.

    Now, get the Amplifying Tome and wait to upgrade it into an Mejai's Soulstealer another good item to get very early. It will boost your AP up a nice amount.

    Now, you need to upgrade those crap boots. There's 2 options. Sorcerer's Shoes or Mercury's Treads. The first one is for damage, but if your enemy team has more than one stun and you end up fighting them you have to get the Merc boots or you will end up being caught and killed. This will make up your core.

    1. Ruby Crystal + Sapphire Crystal
    2. Boots of Speed
    3. Catalyst the Protector (upgraded from starting crystals)
    4. Amplifying Tome > Mejai's Soulstealer
    5. Sorcerer's Shoes OR Mercury's Treads

    Preferences later in game:
    From here, you mainly upgrade into the Magic > Ability Power section for weapons after you have your core. Most of them start with the Amplifying Tome and get upgraded from it and a few other items.

    One of the weapons I love is the Rod of Ages and the Nashor's Tooth. I usually end with a Fiendish Codex and Will of the Ancients as well.

    What order you get these in isn't extremely important, it depends what you want/need more that game. The rod is good to get early so you can build up the bonuses and the Book for spell vamp, but it depends if you have a jungler getting you gold or not. Better to get what you can afford more first. Something > nothing. There are many AP upgrade options, this just tends to be a solid and fast build for me, while giving me the cata crystal benefit early on.

    *Edit 1
    Some other zileans actually prefer a mana item or mana regen item at start. I do not say mine is better or worse, but I just can't live without my ruby crystal. There has been so many times at level 1 and 2 where I have escaped with less than 80 health, meaning I would be dead if I chose any other starting item. I recommend you try BOTH and see which works best for you. I do some ballsy moves at start to push enemies back and it works for me, if you are more conservative, a sapphire or D ring will help you stay in the lane even longer though.

  • Skilling Order

    Like a lot of people will say, Zilean isn't a heavy killer, you may wonder why I prio Time Bomb. Simply put, I love to harass. It's at end game where you throw the most time warps around, early on I like to harass and push back enemies with time bomb.

    1 or 2 in rewind early on so you can throw double bombs. It's very mana intensive but with clarity and being able to recall/teleport it's not much of an issue midgame and at endgame you have no mana issues. Unless an enemy is on his last few slivers he usually doesn't recall, a double bomb will likely finish one off.

    I neglect Time Warp a bit, because I don't need it too much unless I'm getting ganked and that 2.5 secs is usually enough. Later endgame when you have it capped is when you start using it more on allies and enemies in frays.

    Ultimate. Enough said. Saves you or an ally from death and shields you. Most champions have their ultimate as the prio.

    Chrono Shift Time Bomb Rewind Time Warp

  • Summoner Abilities

    Teleport This is a must on all my champions. When used right you can save a team mate, tower, your base or even make it to the enemies base fast enough to deal out just enough dmg to win before they stop your assault.

    Clarity You will spend half the game recalling until your past level 12 or so if you don't have this. It's true endgame you usually don't need this when your 18 and have most of your items, but it still has a use then and it's a must at level 1-12.

    Flash Flash isn't bad for escaping, but once again, I can't do without my other 2.

    Ghost Very good escape ability, but you shouldn't need this at all with Time Warp and Ult. It's not too bad at getting to places, like a poor man's teleport. I wouldn't use this unless you can't escape from enemies with time warp and ult, then again, I wouldn't suggest Zilean in that case, he's a fun but hard champion to master.

    Cleanse There's a few times this could have saved me, being stunned means you are going to die because you can't use your Ult. I wish I could fit this into my Build.


    Revive I'll stab you in the face. Don't even look at this. MAYBE there can be a use in premades on a different champion. 1min timers suck, but this has no place on Zilean ever.

    The rest shouldn't need explaining. You're welcome to experiment with them but I don't see their benefits outweighing the ones I listed.

  • Pros / Cons

    -Good harasser and you can have a good stand off with 2 enemies as long as you have a turret and minions to fall back in.
    -Good support later game, especially with ult.
    -Really hard to die if played right.
    -Great lane staying power past 10 or so.
    -You will have lots of fun with him, but he's not for everyone.

    -Not everyone can play him.
    -Stuns. If you get stunned you are dead.
    -Health. It's not terrible but as above, if you get stunned, it's low enough to get destroyed.
    -Not many kill shots. If you like seeing 500 kills play an assassin.
    -If you learn how to play him well and decide to make a guide to help people, they will disagree with you aggressively. :P

  • Summary

    In short, Zilean is a great support/harasser. If you like the hit and run or support champions, he is worth a try. If you like to run in and stay or get mass kill shots, then this guy is not for you. If your kill shots don't matter and you like helping your team without dying much, he is one of the best.

    Don't ever follow any guide 100%. This is a guide not a set in stone rule book. If you find yourself dying and you do not have the same experience I do you can add more health or magic resist items. Just because something happens to work for me doesn't mean in the middle of a game you won't have a different turn out and need to change your items.

    Once you play enough you will find your own play style and item sets for each champion. Mastery and rune setting comes a little bit later.

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Submitted by Kusaryuu

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