Zilean Build Guide

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Father Time

written by Yulgash

Zilean Build

Table of Contents

  • Quick Reference



    Summoner Spells:

    Skill Order:

    Starting Items: Boots of Speed, 3x Health Potion
    Core Items: Sorcerer's Shoes, Rod of Ages, Rabadon's Deathcap
    Extra Offense: Void Staff, Elixir of Brilliance
    Extra Defense: Zhonya's Hourglass, Banshee's Veil, Quicksilver Sash

  • Introduction

    Zilean is very fun champion with strong support in addition to good burst damage. Although Zilean has no skill shots, he requires finesse to play properly; his abilities are versatile and he is dependent on good positioning. This guide is primarily focused on solo-lane Zilean, with the assumption that he gets his side's blue buff.

    The primary things you want to build on Zilean are ability power and cooldown reduction. Cooldown reduction is incredibly important on Zilean; it's synergy with rewind greatly increases his support capabilities, and improves his damage output in longer fights. Ability power is essential for building Zilean's substantial offensive power.

    Secondary statistics for Zilean are mana and survivability. He has some mana issues that need to be resolved to prevent him from frequently running out of steam. Zilean does not have great base defense, and is susceptible to burst, so you need to build some defense.

  • Abilities

    Heightened Learning
    Increases experience gain of all allied champions by 8%.

    Nothing flashy, but it can give your team a slight edge. This will also improve exp from jungle creeps, so it can potentially give an early level to a jungler. This bonus is only active when you are alive and also applies to you (despite the fact that you receive no buff icon from it).

    Time Bomb
    Places a bomb on any unit, allied or enemy, which detonates after 4 seconds, dealing area of effect damage.
    Damage 90/145/200/260/320 (+0.9 AP)
    Cooldown 10
    Mana 70/85/100/115/130
    Range 650

    Good AP scaling and base damage. This skill will be very useful early on when you will be able to harass champions out of lane. The bomb ticks to 3, 2, 1 true damage before exploding. Placing a second bomb on a target which already has a bomb on it will cause the first bomb to explode and the second to function normally. If a unit dies with a bomb on it, the bomb will explode immediately.

    Reduces all of Zilean's other spell cooldowns by 10 seconds.
    Cooldown 18/15/12/9/6
    Mana 50

    This skill ties together all of Zilean's abilities. With it you can double bomb, chain slow, and revive someone every ~30 seconds.

    Time Warp
    Zilean slows an enemy champion's movement speed or increases an allied champion's movement speed by 55%.
    Duration 2.5/3.25/4/4.75/5.5
    Cooldown 20
    Mana 100
    Range 650

    A powerful slow/haste, great for catching enemies, flying around the map, and getting in and out of combat. Unlike other hastes, warp gives a multiplicative speed boost. This means that it is more effective against slows than other speedup spells.

    Chrono Shift
    Marks an allied champion; if the champion would take lethal damage, they are instead brought back to life.
    Duration 7
    Heal 600/850/1100 (+2.0 AP)
    Cooldown 180
    Mana 200
    Range 900

    One of Zilean's greatest strengths. Thanks to rewind you will have this up every fight, and how effectively you use it can drastically change the course of the game. Note that a reviving unit will be invulnerable and immobile for a brief window of time (equaivalent to the active effect of Zhonya's Hourglass).

  • Masteries

    With the reworked masteries the offense tree is the most attractive for Zilean with boosts to AP, magic penetration, and CDR. The 9 points in utility give more mana and mana regen, and most importantly increased neutral buff duration. Zilean functions best with blue buff, as this lets him avoid investing heavily into mana and cooldown items.

  • Runes

    Recommended Runes:
    Greater Mark of Insight Boosts your bomb damage, and combined with magic penetration boots takes base magic resistance almost to 0.
    Greater Seal of Replenishment To allow for addition harassment in lane.
    Greater Glyph of Warding Lets Zilean trade better with his opponent mid (almost always another AP caster)
    Greater Quintessence of Potency Increases your early damage, making your harass harder to deal with.

    Greater Glyph of Force These are usable against a mid lane opponent without much early threat (Morgana for instance)

  • Summoner Abilities

    Zilean has many reasonable summoner spell choices. Flash and ignite are going to be your standard spells, as with most AP carries. You might substitute cleanse or exhaust for ignite based on the enemy team.

  • Skilling Order

    At level 2 I usually get rewind for increased burst, but you can pick time warp if you are doing poorly in lane and/or are worried about an early gank. Leveling up warp over rewind is a good idea because a longer slow is more useful early game than a shorter cooldown on rewind (in most early exchanges you wont get the chance to rewind more than once). Maxing rewind before chronoshift is beneficial as this will actually make chronoshift cooldown faster.

  • Items

    Starting Items:

    Boots of Speed Makes it easier to force exchanges, and allows 3 health pots for plenty of sustain. 

    Core Items:

    Catalyst the Protector The passive is incredibly powerful in lane, giving good health and mana regeneration. Also builds into other good items.
    Rod of Ages Very strong overall item for Zilean, as he doesn't have extraordinary range, and has some mana issues.
    Sorcerer's Shoes These give a big boost to damage against low magic resistance targets, making your early burst even more dangerous.
    Rabadon's Deathcap The AP casters offensive item of choice, provides a huge boost to damage.

    Extra Offense:

    Void Staff Essential to maintaining your damage once champions begin stacking magic resistance.
    Elixir of Brilliance Provides a cheap boost to AP and CDR. You should use these the buff yourself lategame, or when important fights are immanent (this combined with blue buff and masteries gets you fairly close to the CDR cap).

    Extra Defense:

    Banshee's Veil/ Quicksilver Sash Both grant magic resistance and some additional resilience to crowd control if needed.
    Zhonya's Hourglass Good defense versus physical attacks, and its active can protect you while you wait for your cooldowns to refresh.

    This is not a comprehensive list of the items which are reasonable, but it is a good overview of what you will be getting most games. After you have your core items you have to choose items based on your opponents, and how the game is going.

  • Overall Strategy

    Early Game:
    Zilean scales reasonably well with ability power and is a strong solo laner. Take advantage of your range (with both bombs and auto attacks) to harass and pressure your opponent. Keep in mind that time bomb will tend to push your lane even if you only use it directly on champions. 

    Mid Game:
    Zilean has some of the strongest burst and mobility at this point, and it is a good idea to take advantage of this by harassing down your lane opponent and ganking. You can give yourself more gank opportunities by rapidly clearing creeps in your lane and then switching lanes to gank. As the game progresses make sure you are around for team-fights, especially predictable ones around map objectives like dragon, baron, and blue/red buffs. In team-fights make sure to stay back to avoid being bursted down.

    Late Game:
    Compared to other AP carrys Zilean has mediocre damage, so make sure your CDR is maxed out (preferably with blue buff) to improve your support. At this stage of the game there is a massive amount of damage going around, so play even safer in teamfights and grab extra survivability as necessary. If you make a careless mistake and are forced to use your ultimate on yourself it could very well lose the game for your team. In addition, keeping your flash for a team-fight is quite important.

  • Unique Skills

    Time Bomb

    Laneing: Bombing allied minions is a good way to harass enemies at their tower while giving enough time to get out of turret range. Another tactic is double bombing an enemy minion weak enough to die to a single bomb; placing the second bomb will cause both bombs go off instantly. This can be tricky, but it extends your potential range. Note that using rewind to double bomb reduces the mana efficiency of your harass, so use it sparingly early on.

    Teamfights: Ideally you should hit several enemies, including their lower health champions. If it is too dangerous to get in range to bomb directly, instead target your allied melee champions. This will often reduce your damage, but it can also save you from being focused down.

    Miscellaneous: If placed on enemies, bombs tick for minor damage until they explode, so be careful of drawing tower aggro. You can bomb any unit, including wards and pets, and a bomb placed on a stealthed unit will be invisible to enemies. If there is a Zilean on the opposing team, note that placing a bomb on a target with an enemy bomb will cause it to immediately detonate (your bomb will explode after 4 seconds). Due to their delay, bombs can be reliably mitigated by damage reducing abilities, but the area of effect damage is not blocked by spell shields.


    Miscellaneous: Given sufficient mana you should use both bomb and warp before rewinding, so you can take advantage of the reduced cooldown on both spells. Spam this whenever you are not low on mana to bring your ultimate back up. Additional uses of rewind are mentioned under other skills.

    Time Warp

    Laneing: Due to mana constraints you will be using this skill sparingly during the lane phase. It is a good tool for escaping or setting up ganks. For escaping, it is best to haste an ally if there are multiple enemies, and it is best to slow a lone chasing enemy (to negate speed boosts like ghost). Keep in mind that this skill can be used to great effect with certain allied champions (Singed and Alistar, for instance). Once you have more mana to burn, you can use this to get yourself in and out of time bomb range.

    Teamfights: Hasting your tanks can lead to an advantageous initiation. Once a fight starts, try to use slow to keep your more vulnerable champions (including yourself) safe. If it is dangerous to get in range to slow enemies, haste allies instead.

    Miscellaneous: While chasing, hasting an ally with a slow or stun will allow you to catch enemies outside of slow range. A good technique for returning to lane is to cast time warp and then rewind while on the fountain. You then zoom away with full mana, almost ready for another warp.

    Chrono Shift

    Miscellaneous: Proper use of this spell turns the tide of fights. In general you want to wait until the last second to use it; this means that opponents will be more likely to burn their abilities and have less time to switch targets. You should not necessarily use this on the first champion on your team to drop. Although you should try to keep your entire team alive, make sure you don't waste it on a weak champion if a more important target is likely to get focused down soon after.

  • Recent Changes

    (12/13/11): First update in a long while - overall the guide has shifted more towards Zilean as an AP carry as opposed to Zilean as a duo-lane bursty support. This was somewhat of a rushed edit, so some sections might not be as cohesive or in-depth as before.

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