Zilean Build Guide

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Zilean, Controlling the Flow of Battle

written by woofus

Zilean Build

Table of Contents

  • Welcome to the Guide

    Hello, I want to start off stating this guide is not steered to turning Zilean into a hard hitting caster. Rather than focus on Zilean dealing massive amounts of burst damage, this version will focus on supporting his team. Cooldown reduction will be our primary focus with maintaining a balance on dealing damage and able to survive most combat situations. Below you will discover that Zilean is one of the most effective support champs in League of Legends with an emphasis on going offensive, or at least allowing his teammates to go on the offensive.

    Word of warning, this guide is not for the feint of heart because I go into a good amount of detail. I do try to keep it sectioned off so those wanting to know the summation of each part can get a general understanding.

  • Abilities

    Heightened Learning
    This will be a blessing for your fellow teammates early game. With this global passive, junglers and skilled lane players will quickly level their champions much faster than normal. Though later, this passive becomes null and void.

    Time Bomb
    A unique offensive skill as it can be placed on any unit, including your friendlies. This is Zilean's only means of burst damage. This can be used in many ways, but with the four (4) second delay on each bomb you will need to adjust for proper timing. On a side note, if you place a bomb on a target that is about to die, then that bomb will immediately detonate upon that unit's death. Very useful for early game harassing.

    This will become the keystone for this build. Early game abuse of Rewind can result in quickly burning through your mana, but a skilled player will only use this skill for 2x Bombs, and other skill combinations discussed later.

    Time Warp
    This serves as either a buff for you and your teammates or a de-buff for your opponents. This is an excellent skill for chasing, fleeing, and keeping an enemy within range of your teammates or a tower. On a side note, this skill will enrage almost all melee oriented champions such as Singed, Udyr, and Garen. More on that further down.

    Chrono Shift
    Zilean can allow himself or any ally to cheat death for the next thirteen (13) seconds. The obvious swirling golden hourglasses let's players know that champion will be brought back to life upon being slain. This will cheat enemies out of a cheap kill, allows for a good Zilean to save a feeder, and simply changing the course of every team fight.

  • Runes and Masteries

    The focus here will be Magic Penetration, increased Health, and Cooldown reduction.

    Marks: 9x Greater Mark of Insight
    Seals: 9x Greater Seal of Vitality
    Glyphs: 9x Greater Glyph of Celerity
    Quintessences: 3x Greater Quintessence of Vitality

    End result from runes: Magic Pentration of 8.5, Health +175 at level 18, Cooldown reduced by 8.10% at level 18, and +97 Health.

    We will be using your typical caster setup with a 9/0/21 masteries build. Since we won't need to jungle very often, if at all, choose something else than [mastery=Utility Mastery]. A point into [mastery=Awareness] or Greed can fill the void if need be. Just don't forget [mastery=Blink of an Eye] and [mastery=Mystical Vision] to improve Flash and Clairvoyance, if you do decide to use those two as your summoner spells. Get the usual from Offense masteries. Four (4) points in Sorcery and a point into [mastery=Archaic Knowledge]) with three (3) points in [mastery=Archmage's Savvy] and a single point into [mastery=Deadliness] to reach that point before that. With Utility masteries, fill Perseverance first being that the mana regen will help out during early game. Four (4) points into [mastery=Expanded Mind] will do much more than [mastery=Awareness] simply because once you reach level 18, increased experience gain doesn't matter. Follow up with three (3) points into Meditation for even more Mana regen. From here, fill the void with the afore mentioned one (1) point placed into either [mastery=Awareness] or Greed. Proceed to place three (3) points into [mastery=Quickness] and Intelligence. Then end it all with your last point in [mastery=Presence of the Master].

    If you do the math you will be two (2) points shy of the full thirty (30) but that is because the floating two (2) points will be allocated into whatever mastery associated with the summoner spells you wish to take.

  • Summoner Spells

    Our best two spells to assist not only ourselves but the team as a whole has to be Flash and Clairvoyance.

    Flash: Only use this as an escape. Try not to use this to chase down a champ since Time Warp is better than Ghost, being that Time Warp can be used faster than Ghost and it can either slow down enemies or speed up allies. Flash past walls, juke through the jungle, or any other way to keep yourself alive.

    Clairvoyance: What better way to help out the team than have a short lived ward that can be placed anywhere on the map free of charge? The best ways to use Clairvoyance is as a way to reveal hiding/fleeing champs and to keep an eye open for your teammates should they be walking into trap. Many times I have used Clairvoyance as a means to watch over a pathway within the jungle to reveal that the entire enemy team is seconds away from swarming a friendly Twitch, Eve, or Twisted Fate attempting to take down a tower. Use Clairvoyance to annoy the other team by revealing them in the bush. Continue to use Clairvoyance every time it is up and ready, but save it should you think you need to know what escape paths are still open should you walk into a trap.

    Other possible choices are Clarity, Ignite, and Heal.

    Clarity: This will help those that always find themselves needing mana at any point in the game. Also, this will be a great spell to have should you be partnered up with a teammate that goes through mana faster than you thought possible. For this, trade [mastery=Blink of an Eye] or [mastery=Mystical Vision] for [mastery=Insight].

    Ignite: This is best used for two situations only. Going against a self healing champ that is making a mad dash for health, thanks to your strategically placed bombs, or taking down a champ that is low on health. The former is for self healing champs, such as Dr. Mundo and Gragas. The latter can occur more times than you care to admit. But, if you find that there are plenty of champs on your team with Ignite, do not take this spell.

    Heal: This is only needed if you have no other choice as far as spells go. A Health Potion or two (2) will go a long way in any League of Legends game. It does not matter at what level you are or how well/poor your team is doing, you are better off with healing potions rather than Heal. This is only used if there is no real source of healing for you and your teammates and Zilean will be needed as the only means of support.

    The rest of the spells you will never need.

    Ghost: Zilean has his own version of Ghost. If you get Ghost, then you are merely a step above the type of player who gets Revival. If you ever need Ghost, you are playing either poorly or playing the wrong champ.

    [spell=Revival]: Nobody but first time players need Revival. By having this spell you are telling your entire team and the other side that you plan on dying frequently. Be prepared to be mocked and verbally harassed simply by having this spell.

    Exhaust: See Ghost.

    Smite: You won't be jungling often enough to need this spell and your Time Bomb can eliminate multiple minions at once. Only get this if you plan on fooling the other team into thinking you are a bad player and need Smite to jungle as Zilean. Though I doubt your allies will enjoy such a joke.

    Teleport: This is not the worst spell in the game, if anything I would call this the sixth (6th) spell that Zilean would do well to have. The only reason I would ever state that Zilean does not need Teleport is due to Time Warp. By spamming Time Warp, you can sprint from one side to the other quickly and easily.

    Cleanse: If you ever need Cleanse as Zilean, you are playing too close too often. Cleanse does best for tanks and melee DPS champs, not support champs such as Zilean. Item's such as Banshee's Veil or Quicksilver Sash can be just as useful if not more so.

    [spell=Fortify]: Only get this spell if you think you absolutely need it to keep your towers alive longer and no one else on your team gets it.

    [spell=Rally]: In most team fights, this spell will be destroyed. Rarely will a team fight stay in a single area as well, which means your Rally spell will have been wasted.

  • Items

    Start with [item=Meki Pendant] and two Health Potion, if you are a higher leveled summoner. If you are not experienced with Zilean or any champion, go with Doran's Ring. Save up for Tear of the Goddess. Afterwards, depending on how fast you acquire gold, you will either make Archangel's Staff your next target or simply get your Boots of Speed. Should you go with your boots, you will upgrade into either Sorcerer's Shoes or Mercury's Treads depending on how much CC exists within the other team. No matter what, the Archangel's Staff is your highest priority due to the fact you will be using abilities repeatedly and the 1000 mana increase will make an impact with this play style. After this, you have a decision to make. If you find yourself on the winning side during every fight you need to aim for Mejai's Soulstealer. Should Mejai's simply be too difficult to reach and maintain twenty (20) stacks then make your way for the Philosopher's Stone. With or without Mejai's, you will still need to build your Philosopher's Stone into Shurelya's Reverie. Now if you declined on Mejai's, [item=Deathfir Grasp] is your next item. The reason behind having either Mejai's Soulstealer or Deathfire Grasp is the increased Ability Power and 15% ability cooldown reduction. This is our item core build and from here on is a situational selection for the remaining two items.

    [item=Rylai's Scepter] is a solid choice with the addition of both Health and Ability Power, the unique effect is of little concern since you can slow anybody you wish with greater efficiency. Now a serious gamble with surprising rewards is acquiring Sheen/ Lich Bane. You will be using your skills so much, that you will become much more effective against towers and team fights. Remember Sheen/Lich Bane has a brief cooldown. [item=Zhonya's Ring] is a typical selection for a caster, for both the extreme increase in Ability Power and the unique effect to save your hide from certain death. Abyssal Scepter is not in your best interest since this is best suited to a champion such as Galio. True, the increase to Magic Resist and Ability Power is great, but other items will do better. You should never be within such a dangerous range to enable the aura effect given off by Abyssal Scepter. Banshee's Veil is a solid choice for the Zilean finding himself becoming public enemy #1 for the other side. Whatever you choose, do not take into consideration Mana or Mana Regeneration, the core item build already has that covered.

    If you simply can not decide on how to fill the last two (2) item slots for your Zilean, you can always fall back on carrying Sight Ward/ Vision Ward and an Elixir of Brilliance/ Elixir of Fortitude. Obviously, you will only need Vision Wards if you are up against stealth using champions, otherwise fall back on Sight Wards. Now if you had to choose between the two (2) Elixir's I have leaned towards Elixir of Fortitude. This is due to the instant healing effect and temporary increase in Health has a greater impact than the Mana replenishing effect, Cooldown reduction, and slight increase in Ability Power found within the Elixir of Brilliance. If you are need Ability Power so badly, you would be better off getting a Void Staff or one of the previously mentioned Ability Power raising items.

  • Skill Progression

    Here is a link to see a more offensive Zilean skill build, should your team be lacking some fire power.
    With this setup, you will need to know proper control of your Time Bomb. We keep Time Warp on hand should Zilean need a quick egress or a means to punish an over extending champion. Save Rewind for a rainy day during early game. Should you choose to control the mid-lane, then this is your best build.

    The next is a link to see a more defensive Zilean skill build that requires a hard hitting lane partner.
    Now this may seem confusing since you will be dealing less damage than the first skill build, but as it was mentioned earlier this is best suited with a partner. By slowing down your opponents or sending your ally off with a Time Warp boost, you will help your teammate rack up kills quickly. Do not attempt this with an ally such as Teemo during the early game lane phase. This is best suited if you have a power house that could use the slight speed edge such as Udyr, Olaf, Pantheon, or Jax. Time your Time Warp properly and harness certain skill combos such as Change the Flow (listed below under Skill Combinations).

    Now you may be confused since I declared that Rewind is such an important skill to this Zilean build, but without a long lasting Time Warp and a powerful Time Bomb, Rewind is worthless. Rewind begins to shine in the later levels and allows you to be an all around asset throughout the game. From early game harassing and pushing to end game saves, you will become a keystone player within your team and a giant pain in the rear for the opposition.

  • Skill Combinations

    Here we discuss a few of Zilean's skills combined together to turn people, friend and foe alike, into living weapons. This covers more than simply placing a Time Bomb on a minion for lane control, because a few of these will require proper team work and clear communication with your allies. Be warned, you may have to tell people what you are about to do or else you will waste mana by placing a Time Bomb and Time Warp on an ally that simply sits there hiding in the bush. Let's get started:

    =2x Bomb= Place a Time Bomb on an enemy champion, Rewind, place a new Time Bomb on the same enemy Champion.
    - Zilean's best source of single target burst damage.
    - Instantly detonates the first Time Bomb and sets up the victim for an explosive end.
    - Can take most players by surprise.
    - You have to be in range for two Time Bombs, which gives the enemy a chance to attack your squishy Zilean.

    =Double Bomb= Place a Time Bomb on either an ally or enemy champion, Rewind, and place another Time Bomb on another ally of enemy champion.
    - Easily done but it will take practice when considering the time delay on each bomb.
    - A great way to initiate a fight.
    - Will only work on your allies if you have melee focused champions such as Jax, Warwick, and Alistar.
    - If you try to place both bombs on enemy champions, you leave yourself within their range as well.

    =Bait and Switch= Place a Time Bomb on an enemy champion, slow them down with Time Warp, and bring the target towards your allies for a gank.
    - Zilean is one of the least likely to bait people into a trap and you will give the illusion that you failed at ganking one or more enemy champions.
    - When used against champions that solely rely on melee combat, such as Udyr, you can stay out of their range while they remain in yours.
    - Most experienced players will see through your ruse and not take the bait.
    - If you do not keep an eye on the map, you may inadvertantly fall into a gank.
    - Only use this if you have players who are able to follow through and finish off the target champion or wound them so they must leave the fight to heal.

    =Blast Shield= Repeatedly place a Time Bomb on an ally champion that keeps enemies, preferably champions, within the blast radius of your Time Bomb.
    - Zilean will be able to inflict as much pain as you want while keeping a safer distance from harm.
    - Only used if you have a melee champion able to hold one or more champions within their reach and within your Time Bomb's radius.
    - You many only be able to perform this once or twice since enemies will get wise to your strategy.
    - Without Rewind, you will not be able to perform this easily.

    =Changing the Flow= Use Time Warp on a chasing champion (ally or enemy) or fleeing champion (ally or enemy), Rewind, use Time Warpon the opposite target (if Time Warp used on ally, then use it on enemy and vice versa).
    - You can save many allies from feeding the enemy team.
    - This combo will be the reason for not needing Ghost.
    - This will induce rage to the other team since you are keeping your allies from dying at their hands and causing them to die simply because they could not run fast enough.
    - You and your allies are still victim to snares and stuns.
    - Worthless if your allies can't finish the job upon chasing or don't flee far enough.
    - Leaves you and your allies open to a gank if you don't have an available escape such as Flash.

    =Launch the Torpedo= Place Time Bomb on an ally, and then Time Warp on the same ally.
    - Turns your ally into a bomb that moves insanely fast.
    - A good way to get a few kills/assists.
    - Can be avoided if your ally is stunned/snared.
    - Practice, practice, practice. Getting the timing down so the bomb does not go off before your "torpedo" reaches an enemy champion.
    - You must have decent communication between you and your "torpedo" or else things will go wrong.

    =Both Barrels= Best summed up as a double version of Launch the Torpedo. Place a Time Bomb on an ally champion, followed immediately by Time Warp, Rewind, place another Time Bomb on a different ally, and ended by adding Time Warp on that same ally champion.
    - Your best way to help in a team fight, other than placing Chrono Shift to spare an ally.
    - Some players will not expect to see two Time Bombs strapped to champions barreling down on them like raging bulls.
    - This is one of the most difficult combos a Zilean player can pull off. It is best performed at level 18 since you will be able to use each ability as quickly as possible.
    - If your team does not have a handle on how to properly initiate a team fight, your allies will die, your bombs will have almost no effect, and you will be forced to use Chrono Shift as a means to save a dying teammate.
    - Useless if you do not have two champions that will keep enemies within each Time Bomb's blast radius.

  • Know Your Role

    Our primary function with this Zilean is to keep your team pushing fast and hard. Upon reaching level 18, you will be causing explosions, slowing down champions to be picked off, boosting your teammates, and allowing allies to cheat death. All with extreme speed that requires very quick fingers.

    Early Game
    Soloing or Mid Lane
    During the first few levels, Zilean needs to stay alive while keeping the opposition in check. Make sure you never waste your mana by placing a Time Bomb on a single enemy minion just for the gold. You would be better off to switch the situation and place a Time Bomb on a lone friendly minion to deal damage to more enemy minions and, if timed right, enemy champions. Your number one priority is to know when your teammates are ready and able to gank. If this does arise, then you have the easiest job in the world. Let your opponent(s) push to the point of no return, and then perform one of your skill combinations. Control the Flow is your best combo since you can single out the best target to take down while allowing your ally to catch up to your prey. All you need to worry about is keeping up with the enemy and attempting to place a Time Bomb upon them. Even if you fail at eliminating the slow moving victim, you can at least prove that you are not a champion to be taken lightly.

    Laning with a Friend
    Control of the lane is key. This may sound a bit vague and redundant to include but most people do not know what this means. If you see a brave enemy take off into the bushes and wait patiently for you or your teammate to get too close, shed some light on the situation. If you have the spell, position a Clairvoyance spotlight to engulf the bush and reveal your hiding foe. If you are lucky, you may get a player who has no idea what is going on until they see your minions making a bee line straight for them, one of your Time Bomb's hovers above them, and your ally has them as a target. Keep the pressure on the opposition with Time Bomb carrying minions, whether they be your own or the enemy's. Make it a reason that you own the front line of the minion waves. Use and abuse your minions as a shield as well, especially against the likes of Morgana and Dr. Mundo. Use your enemies skills against them. Going up against Nasus? Use his Spirit Fire as a means to detonate your Time Bomb's quickly on your minions. Ashe becoming a nuisance? Remember her Volley will hit minions first if you use them as a shield which allows you to run up and toss a Time Bomb on Ashe. No matter what, always be prepared and keep an eye on the map. If you don't have Clairvoyance, have at least one ward to keep an eye on the bushes to be prepared and never give the other side the upper hand through means of a gank. Just keep Time Warp ready and almost no champion will be able to catch either you or your ally.

    Taking Down Towers
    Never place a Time Bomb on an enemy champion. That is rule one with one exception, if you are able to sneak one on quickly and escape out of the range of a tower. It is best to control the area around the tower by putting Time Bombs on minions. This will buy you a moment or two since the enemy champion(s) will not stand there and take the blast. Use this time to sneak in a few shots onto the tower. If you find yourself damaging a tower without a defending champion within sight, do not relax. Your best bet is to have Time Warp ready for you to click. For a quick boost, should you forget to have Time Warp ready, if you click the E key for Time Warp you can then hit F1. This eliminates any possibility of misclicking on the wrong champion and gives Zilean the needed speed boost from his Time Warp. Just remember that Time Warp only works if you have a clear path to run, and if you find yourself boxed in by a champion that can stun or snare Zilean, then it may be too late. A single ward or well timed and well placed Clairvoyance can serve as an alarm to when danger is heading straight for you. Never leave behind you allies or else be known as a failed support champ. Simply perform a Control the Flow on both your ally and yourself. But, target your ally first so you don't waste your own speed boost.

    Late Game Dominion
    In your later levels, your old man of a champion will require more speed from you than most other champions. You will be constantly placing your Time Bomb's in an attempt to deal as much damage as possible. Remember, you won't have the quality of damage a single Time Bomb from a pure Ability Power focused Zilean so you will need to make up for that with quantity. Keep your allies moving fast and your enemies moving slow. If your allies want to switch from one lane to another, know the best champions to go first and follow down the line of which champion will do best to lead you to a win. You will often find yourself becoming the caboose amongst your team's train to victory, but simply accept that rather than try to lead the pack. Don't be afraid of "wasting" Chrono Shift since you rarely will with massive use of Rewind.

  • Cheating Death

    Your greatest weapon deals no damage at all. Chrono Shift can simply be summed up as buying more time for your allies. For the next thirteen (13) seconds, you or another ally, refuse to stay dead. You must be ready to use Chrono Shift as soon as it is ready. Always have enough mana so that you can cast it at any time. Chrono Shift can stop enemies from getting a cheap kill off you or an ally. If you fail to have Chrono Shift ready all the time, you will be blamed and called a noob constantly. As I mentioned before, Rewind is key within this guide. If Chrono Shift is on cooldown, you must spam Rewind no matter what. The only time this does not apply is when you are about to take part in a team fight. This is due to the obvious need to use Rewind for any skill combination listed above.

    Word of warning, Chrono Shift paints a giant bulls-eye on Zilean. No other skill will bring more hatred than Chrono Shift. With those swirling golden hourglasses, people will realize that Zilean is the first to go at all costs. The other team will attempt to perform one of two strategies. Either Zilean must die or make Zilean waste Chrono Shift leaving his team without death insurance.

    With added Ability Power, Chrono Shift will raise most of your fallen allies to full health. That is nearly the same with all Ability Power increased Zilean's. Our greatest exception is, by level 18, we will have a constant 40% cooldown reduction for all abilities. This translates into taking the new 108 seconds waiting time into slightly over twenty (20) seconds to use Chrono Shift again. This means you could place Chrono Shift on your tank as a precaution, then have only about a seven (7) second window before you can have Chrono Shift ready to go again. This means your team can cheat death quickly, easily, and with almost no fear of falling into any traps. Remember one thing and one thing alone: Keep hitting that W key. Be kind and Rewind until Chrono Shift is ready.

  • Zilean vs...

    Going against specific champions may require a bit of a change up in your strategy. Here are a few examples:

    Vladimir: With his abilities, your early level bombs will have almost no effect on this self healing champ. Combine this with the fact that his Sanguine Pool can prevent all damage from your Time Bomb, Vlad will be a champ requiring another teammate if you want to take him down. 2x Bombs and slowing Vladimir down with Time Warp are your best bets.

    Pantheon: Do not approach this DPS champ without some sort of escape. More often than not, you will rarely place a Time Bomb direclty on Panth since he has a ranged attack as well. With his Aegis of Zeonia range, you will more than likely feed this champ rather than harm him. Turn minions into walking bombs to keep him at bay. Just remember, to put a Time Bomb on a minion that Pantheon is about to take down and you will make that a kill to regret.

    Lux: With her skills shots, a skilled Lux player will see you making a path towards the blonde champ and react by throwing one of her CC skills. If you are soloing against Lux, save your mana and stay alive. Keep last hitting minions and using your Time Bomb to take down multiple minions and let your own minions do your dirty work for you. But, once Lux's two damaging abilities ( Light Binding Lucent Singularity) are down, feel free to make a bombing run by placing Time Warp on yourself and then Time Bomb Lux right away.

    Teemo: Many Teemo players are unaware that simply placing a Time Bomb on Teemo will take away his Move Quick. This will take down the speedy little champ and allow you to 2x Bomb him or set him up for a gank by Time Warping him into a snail.

    Xin Zhao/Warwick/Irelia/Udyr: These four champions are linked together due to their ability to heal by pummeling enemies such as your minions. Make that a mistake they will remember by Time Bombing the minions they attempt to last hit. This will make them think twice. If you make it a fact that every time you approach, you place Time Bomb then each time you approach them they will back off. Beware their long distance strikes. Warwick's Infinite Duress will shred you to pieces. Xin Zhao can Audacious Charge into you and beat you to submission. Irelia can do the same as Xin Zhao while also being able to shoot her blades with Transcendent Blades at you while you try to flee. But, poor Udyr won't be able to touch you without a Flash because his Bear Stance is just too slow for Zilean.

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