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All Guides Zilean Guides Why can't I hold all these bombs?: Zilean Mid [6.7]
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Zilean Statistics for ldo

Author's performance with Zilean compared to the ranked average.

Value
Average
Games Played
6
Win %
43
Kills
2.7
Assists
10.4
Deaths
5.1
KA:D Ratio
2.6
Gold Earned
9.3K
Creep Score
84.8
Average

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  • Author Champion Statistics
  • Guide Details

Summoner Spells Back to Top

Zilean mid has one of the more open ended Summoner Spell decisions out of all mid laners. Based on preference or team needs, your laning won't change too drastically because of one summoner spell. Whereas with other champions, they need the Ignite to snowball, or they need the barrier if they get jumped on. Zilean doesn't 'need' any summoners but there are definitely situations in which a certain summoner will be more beneficial.


4.png: Flash is the only summoner where you actually need it. Yes Zilean has a speed buff, and yes his ult saves your life, but those buffs should be going onto your teammates, not you because you got caught without flash. 

12.png: Zilean has fairly strong TP plays because of his stun from double bomb and his ability to speed up or slow down champions based on the current need of the gank. When TPing as Zilean for a countergank, make sure to play as aggressive as possible. Earlier I said the ult and buffs should be onto your team, but you need to be TPing behind their botlaners or toplaner. They will usually turn on you, especially if they were getting a gank at the time of the TP. Try to get off your stun and a slow/speed up, and as you're about to die put the ult on yourself.

1.png: Cleanse can be good on Zilean when they have a lot of either point and click cc, or ready punishing cc. Against something like an Ahri or Elise, a well timed cleanse can save your life better than any flash or barrier could in that situation.

3.png: This is for those pesky AD mids like Zed or Fight heavy AP assassins like Fizz. Keep in mind, that your ult is always going to be important than exhaust. Try to use exhaust instead of ulting yourself. If you do end up ulting yourself over Exhausting, in the next teamfight they will dive you or your ADC and an Exhaust isn't going to stop and entire front line.

14.png: Although Zilean never really gets close to enemies ever, You have a surprising amount of kill pressure when a double bomb stun hits and you ignite. It will force a flash and if they don't you can run them down by slowing them. 

21.png: Barrier can be used when you're against a more burst type of lane like Leblanc. It's a very forgiving spell but you're forced to play back a bit because you have two defensive summoners.

New Runes Back to Top

Masteries Back to Top

Zilean is surprisingly a strong laner despite that fact that he doesn't have a consistent or very reliable damage source. Two bombs and an auto are more than enough to chuck them to almost half without them being able to hit back. To highlight how well Zilean lanes, we're going to take masteries that reflect it.


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Ferocity (12)


Since Zilean is still immobile and can't get too greedy for damage, we're taking the "safe route" in Ferocity. The only aggressive stat taken is going to be Natural Talent. The 15 AP x .35(=20)from deathcap is a free Amp tome worth of stats in the late game just because of one mastery. Oppressor is better than Bounty Hunter because the stun applies before thunderlords, and you'll get an extra 2.5% damage off on whatever target you stun. You can also perma slow someone in the late game and basically get a free assassin mastery from it.

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Cunning (18)


Nothing too crazy about the cunning tree on Zilean. You take what most AP mids would take. Biscuits is the best option because the 2% extra damage from assassin is irrelevant when you have Oppressor from the Ferocity tree. The magic pen is also more important than the chance at 45% cdr since you're going to be double bombing once every 8-6 seconds. The extra 5% becomes negligible. Although Stormraider's is a little bit better in the past few patches, Thunderlord's is still king, especially with it giving you huge results with double bomb>auto attack in lane.
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Resolve (0)


On a lot of mid laners, Faker loves to play resolve. On Zilean it's not a bad tree and is just as good as 12 points Ferocity, but we don't need the extra utility, we need damage assistance from Ferocity. You don't benefit from a lot of the utility in Resolve because it either doesn't apply in general, or you already have enough of it and need more.

Abilities Back to Top

Q
W
Q
E
Q
R
Q
W
Q
W
R
W
W
E
E
R
E
E
Passive
Q
1
3
5
7
9
W
2
8
10
12
13
E
4
14
15
17
18
R
6
11
16

Throughout this guide or from personal experience you've probably noticed what Zilean's strengths and weaknesses are. He provides strong utility with a surprising amount of damage if you're not careful. Zilean's kit is very beginner friendly which makes him a great champion to learn mid with. Above is the most popular and most efficient skill order, but let's go into more detail on why.


timebomb.png

Time Bomb (Q)

Zilean's Q is what makes him viable in the mid lane. His base damages are pretty insane, not even counting the 90% AP scaling it has. The only difficulty with Q is it's very predictable so it can be easily dodged. There's also the issue of if you're trying to freeze your lane. If you hit the enemy laner with a Q he can bring it into his caster creeps to break your freeze. The high base damages and AP scaling makes up for it being unreliable in many senses of the word but it is your only damage source so you kind of have to max it by default. If you don't want to do damage, you should be playing Zilean support, but even there you max Q.

rewind.png

Rewind (W)

Most champions have one ability that really ties their kit together and for Zilean, that's W. The logic behind maxing W second is that it not only allows your other abilities to be used quicker, but it also let's you use W sooner as well. At max rank, you could get off an AoE stun every 6 seconds, which is pretty insane. Maxing W second is almost like maxing all your other abilities at the same time since you're shaving 10 seconds off their cooldown every 6 seconds. 

timewarp.png

Time Warp (E)

If and AoE stun every 6 seconds isn't enough utility, here's Time Warp. Even at rank one the speed buff or debuff is crazy will almost always guarantee a summoner burned or a kill during a gank or catching someone out. The reason you never max it second is because a 40% slow is enough to secure a summoner or kill. And in the event that it's not, you can W and do it again to guarantee it. And if that's somehow not enough, you can W again in 6 seconds.

chronoshift.png

Chronoshift (R)

This is Zilean's money maker. One of the most impactful ults in the entire game. Generally this ult wants to go onto a carry that got jumped on but it's actually very effective to put it on one of your front liners, or whoever is going to die first. Chances are when someone is going to die, they've taken the brunt of long cooldown cc and one or more ults. It's fine to throw your ult onto that person but we'll go into more detail on that later. For now, enjoy this video on Zilean ult.
[Crazy Boris Productions on Youtube]



Items Back to Top

Starting Items

    Standard start for all ap mids. Zilean has really mana efficient abilities, but 15 ap and 50% base mana regen is hard to pass up
    Super defensive start if you don't trust your skill against something like zed or talon. inferior to doran's start but it's not the end of the world if you feel comfortable starting it

Core Items

    better version of tear. more immediate mana regen and super gold efficient. No need to double down on mana with rod
    Rod is probably the strongest AP item right now just because the 10 stack ap is hard to pass up.
    Banner is really strong right now because of the afk lane push with zz'rot combo. Works really well on Zilean since he likes to stay next to his team and keep them buffed from the aegis
    zilean's kit is centered around cooldowns and spamming W to get even more. cooldowns cooldowns cooldowns
    no brainer. must have on all AP mids
    you have to have magic pen somewhere and even if you get sorc boots that's not enough

Situational Items

    item doesn't suck as much anymore. reasonable to buy first against annoying poke type champs. you need the early mana regen to be able to shove wave back 24/7
    If you desperately need mr and you can't back for catalyst, this will keep you alive and let you farm up for catalyst. do not skip rod just because you don't rush it
    If you're really getting slam jammed and your only hope is to scale with tear, it can be bought instead of morello's
    it can be ok but your E is just a better version on a shorter cooldown

How to Itemize during lane:


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Ideally, you want to rush Rod to start scaling as fast as possible. As seen in the 'situational' items, it won't always be best to get it first, but you need to get it second at the very least. It's very gold efficient since it will scale in value without you having to do anything. So what situations would make you defer from getting Rod first?

Option 1
3174.png

Athene's doesn't suck anymore so it's actually pretty good to get on Zilean first item. Let's take the Lux matchup for example. Lux is very popular right now for her wave clear and poke. Zilean struggles with being able to shove a wave back, and in the process he will go oom regardless of his low mana costs. 

Option 2
3165.png

Morello's is similar to Athene's except it's a lot cheaper and a lot easier to rush. You should take the same logic as Season 5's Stattik Shiv vs Phantom Dancer. Clearly phantom dancer is the better item but if you back with enough gold for Stattik Shiv, you should just get it for the immediate power spike. Athene's is better but you shouldn't be greedy if you can buy Morello's straight up. Because of this I recommend getting Fiendish Codex because it gives you the flexibility to go into either Athene's or Morello based on the gold you back with.

Option 3
3001.png

This is the defensive equivalent of Morello. Super stat efficient and good gold value. It's really cheap and will help you stay alive against some of the more aggressive AP mids laners. You won't be able to make much use of it's MR reduction radius later on though, so consider swapping to Void staff later on.

Matchups Back to Top

Click on a champion below to see the author's notes on that particular matchup.

  • Ahri
    Hard
  • Anivia
    Medium
  • Annie
    Easy
  • Azir
    Medium
  • Cassiopeia
    Medium
  • Corki
    Hard
  • Diana
    Easy
  • Ekko
    Medium
  • Fizz
    Easy
  • Kassadin
    Hard
  • LeBlanc
    Medium
  • Lissandra
    Medium
  • Lulu
    Hard
  • Lux
    Hard
  • Orianna
    Medium
  • Ryze
    Hard
  • Syndra
    Medium
  • Talon
    Easy
  • Twisted Fate
    Easy
  • Viktor
    Medium

VS

Ahri

Hard

This matchup is pretty annoying since she's pretty fast. She will have to mess up mechanically to get hit by your bombs so just respect her speed and harass. Go abyssal into RoA and you should be fine after Catalyst. Just try not to feed her beforehand. She will roam pretty hard Post-6 so make sure you're keeping a ward on either side of the river. Zilean is really good at chasing down his laner to turn a 2v3 into a 3v3 or 1v2 into a 2v2. With how Ahri's kit works, she'll win every roam battle. You just need to be there to disengage the fight. Don't reply on missing pings or danger pings in solo queue, a majority of players are too focused on their micro play.

VS

Anivia

Medium

Anivia is a little bit annoying at first because she can shove pretty easy. She has really slow MS so you can peg her with a lot of Q's but it's important to rush a Morello to keep up with her wave pushing and mana pool. Anivias tend to run TP or ignite, so take TP just in case. If it turns out she has ignite you just have to play a bit safer but the TP vs no TP is very unforgiving. Keep in mind Anivia ult can be stopped by using hard cc (doublebomb). In the event that you counter TP on Anivia, stun her first then slow the other enemies engaged in the fight, preferably the ones who have consistent damage like the ADC if it's a bot lane fight.

VS

Annie

Easy

Annie is pretty similar to Anivia. Very slow champion that you can hit with a lot of bombs. She doesn't shove that hard so rushing catalyst is great cause it can stop the burst on you. You should never die to her unless you willingly stay in kill range around 50% hp. Let her kill you with ult on you so you get a free health boost and she loses kill pressure. Late game it's a little more difficult since she can 100-0 your ADC even without being fed. This is a matchup where you 100% do not want to be near your ADC or other squishy carry since you need to be able to ult them. Even if you think they'll survive the burst, put the ult on them anyway because there's a good chance Annie's team is ready to follow up on the stun and not pay attention to the Zilean ult.

VS

Azir

Medium

Kinda annoying since you'll get poked 24/7 while trying to cs. Ganking him can be really easy if you hit him with a bomb and throw the other one in the direction he has to dash in. Get Athene's here for the poke and mana regen. Outside of lane he's significantly less annoying but he can split you from your front line and you'll usually get off a suboptimal ult. If you get pushed into the rest of their team, try to get off a double bomb and ult yourself. If he uses a game changing ultimate to try to pick you off and you survive through your ult, the team fight auto wins assuming your team isn't super far behind.

VS

Cassiopeia

Medium

Even though she's fast, she has to move linearly to keep using Twin Fangs on you. Disengage with a double bomb. You can bait her into all inning you and ult yourself and then turn the fight since she'll oom herself quickly. Get Catalyst. Laning against her is easy but you need to be very mindful you're not getting stunned along with another priority target. With an entire team, they can easily kill someone by the time you're unstunned and now it's a 4v5. It's skill oriented to backstep so it's not a stun off her ult but you shouldn't ever really be in range unless she flashes for it. Pay attention to her cooldowns.

VS

Corki

Hard

Like an AD cassiopeia except he won't run out of mana. Especially with package he has a good amount of engage on you so just respect his poke and all in with thunderlords. Get catalyst. If you want to be cheeky, you can put your double bomb at the end of his packaged valkyrie and he gets stunned at the end of it. This usually won't work either because you can't tell the exact range or your team will already be getting owned by his valk trail to do anything about the stun.

VS

Diana

Easy

Only she'll kill you is to all in you with long cooldowns. Just ult yourself and she can't do anything. You can also turn it by double bombing yourself when she goes aggressive. Take abyssal here. It gets even easier when she tries to jump on anyone in a fight because you'll just do the exact same thing to her. You shut her down all game long by double bombing whoever she jumps on ult should be saved for your front line here because they're going to be the only ones in trouble, and that's only because of their ADC not Diana

VS

Ekko

Medium

Time vs Time who wins. When he E's on you just double bomb yourself since he's only got one gapcloser. Take abyssal since he has short cd's and can re-engage after he backs off. It's really important to try to stun him when he's about to ult, not at the beginning of the fight. Ekko's will usually save ult until the last second to try to get maximum value so you can punish for being greedy. It's important here to understand how much damage your team can get off in the X amount of time your bomb stuns for at the current rank.

VS

Fizz

Easy

Fizz will eat all of your bombs and gets shut down by exhaust super hard. If all else fails you can ult yourself and build Abyssal. You dump on him. Your E slows down he playful trickster range so use it preemptively when he's going to jump. Typically, they will save it until they have an ult target to combo it with. You shut Fizz down really hard because he has long cooldowns and you deny any damage his can get off with ult and Exh. 9/10 the person he ults will need your ult but he could also switch targets if he has enough damage to burst without his ult. Don't auto ult whoever gets fished, just make sure you're ulting whoever is getting the majority of cooldowns onto them.

VS

Kassadin

Hard

He'll never engage on you until he can burst you and force you to ult. He can has short cooldowns and can easily all in you within 10 seconds. Try to double bomb him when he jumps on you and build Catalyst. Playing against Kassadin is kind of like a guessing game because you have to think like he does. In his position who would he jump on? Keep an eye out for who he's looking for it fights because many players will telegraph it by looking straight at them. Doublebomb as soon as you see the riftwalk go off. He won't die because he will just jump out after the stun is over, but it denies most of the damage he's looking for.

VS

LeBlanc

Medium

All her damage is on long cooldowns just ult yourself during her all in. Get abyssal and try to tag her with bombs to keep the harass up. Only reason this isn't an 'easy' matchup is because late game she can just jump over a wall and QRE your ADC or other squishy carry and they'll need your ult. Which wouldn't be so bad, but she can do it again in 10 seconds. You just just have to hope you can maybe stun her or your ADC learns from the first time and positions away from walls.

VS

Lissandra

Medium

She can shove you under tower super hard but she never really has kill pressure on you. Build morello to make sure you can shove the wave back early but you're still gonna be under tower a lot. Whomever she ults is a signal to ult that person. Players have it programmed in their mind to jump on the liss ult target, sometimes it doesn't even matter who it is, it's like a cat with a laser pointer. Lissandra is only ever useful for ulting since her claw is such a long cooldown she won't even be able to back in for a W stun. You shut her down really hard with your ult.

VS

Lulu

Hard

Her main counterplay to you is polymorphing you when you're low and then bursting you from whatever health you were at so you can't ult, so try to be a little bit wasteful with ult duration just so you don't die. On top of that she also keeps you under tower for a while. Lulu doesn't really do anything to warrant you using abilities on. You can maybe counteract her W speed buff with your E, but the target she just sped up usually isn't someone you want to be in range to use E on. Lulu out Zilean's you in teamfights since her ult can double someone's health and adds a knockup which is better than your delayed revive.

VS

Lux

Hard

Lux is really annoying because if she throws out her shield when you try to double bomb her, the bounce of the shield absorbs all the damage. She keeps you under tower and pokes you the whole time so get Athene's. Even though you can ult the target she's trying to one-shot, it's such a short cooldown compared to your ult that it's going to happen two more times before your ult is even up. Best you can do is ward up a ton so that she can't find a pick before fights happen. If she uses ult during a teamfight that's completely fine, but using your ult on a picked target will kill your team ironically.

VS

Orianna

Medium

She has really good zoning potential so make sure if you're never bombing the wave. She will punish you insanely hard for shoving the wave but there isn't much else to be scared of unless you misplay. You have tons of time to farm up so get catalyst and even tear if you want. Ori has really deceptive damage so make sure to not get greedy with your ult. A QWR combo can quite easily one shot someone. If you get caught in a 3k Elo orianna ult, don't panic and just hold your ult until someone is about to die. Self casting, or casting it on someone just to cast is the worst case scenario if they don't die.

VS

Ryze

Hard

A good ryze will tear through your HP, force you to ult, and then do it again when you res. Luckily, 90% of Ryze players can't combo that well, but you have to assume the worst and respect their potential to do it. Abyssal won't save you so just go catalyst. Ryze slam dunks you literally all the time. If you ult one target, he will finish them off, and then switch to you, kill you, and then kill the person you ulted as soon as they res. Your best option is actually just to wait to ult someone and then suicide by walking up and slowing him or double bombing.

VS

Syndra

Medium

Syndra can be very punishing to you if you get greedy with ult. Her stun duration is long enough that her ult will half channel and kill you if you're low enough. Respect her stun and count how many Q's she has out to calculate if she can kill you. Get catalyst. Her stun can be very strange and you might get hit too, so make sure you're not in the angle of a ball hitting you while your teammate is about to get bopped. I hope you passed geometry because you're gonna have to process the angles very quickly during fights. If you can manage to ult the target she ulted, you've now made it half way through the fight. She still has a very strong damage output so try to give your ADC or other Carry your E buff so he doesn't get hit by another stun or any Q's.

VS

Talon

Easy

Talon is similar to Fizz but with AD and he actually does damage to people other than the one he ults. He's very easy to deal with at the beginning because he does nothing until level 4 when his rake damage is relevant. Between lvl 4/5 is the only time he has kill pressure on you, after that you shut him down super hard with your ult and slows. It's very important you keep him shoved in so he can't come back by roaming on your side lanes.

VS

Twisted Fate

Easy

Super immobile at the start even with MS quints so when he pulls a card and looks to use it on you, double bomb and punish him. Force him under tower and keep chunking him with bombs. You can't afford to let him hit 6 and immediately look for a play. Teleport is super important in this lane. Most TF's run TP into zilean so he'll have a double global presence but you still need TP for his ult, he will find a way to port to a side lane so don't try to take ignite and keep him pinned to tower. He'll shove out, base, and port into a side lane from base.

VS

Viktor

Medium

Not really any kill pressure on either side but he'll keep you under tower quite a lot. Get Morellos to keep up with his lane manipulation. In teamfights you'll never really be near each other because of your kits so there's not specific way to play around him in teamfights. The most you can do is just play out the fight based on the other 8 champs in the game based and their current impact on the fight.

Identifying Your Role in the Game Back to Top

Not only is Zilean a utility monster, he also has a good bit of damage late game. Too many times in Load Ins I see people alt-tab and go on twitter, their phone, etc. Load in gives you tons of time to look at yours and their teamcomp. By the time minions spawn you should have an outline of what your role is in your comp, and what items you plan to build. Every game is different so playing utility minded just because you have a hyper carry isn't always cardinal rule. There are some guidelines though.


Hyper Carries

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Contrary to the pictures above, Hyper carries don't always have to be an ADC. Hyper carries can be defined as champions who have an even higher game carrying potential than other champions in their role. For example, a Corki is very strong in the early game, but Lucian's ability to destroy a team fight in the late game is unmatched. So what does it mean to have a hyper carry on your team? When you see something like a Fiora top or Lucian bottom, you have to pretend you're their new support. You know those bot lane duos that are obviously boyfriend and girlfriend because one of them is playing Janna and the other is Vayne? Ya, you're now a homewrecker. You gotta support that Vayne so good that he's questioning his own irl relationship with Janna. You should play out fights next to him (unless they have a punishing AoE cc) and make sure he's able to DPS safely. This entails speeding him up and saving double bomb stuns for the enemy frontliners. 

However your ultimate isn't exclusively for your carries. If the enemy team is throwing all their ults and significant cooldowns onto your frontline, throw ult on them and the enemy now has no cooldowns of importance and have to fight the same threat they had to use everything to take down. You should think of it like those RPG bossfights where you use up all your pots and mana killing him but it turns out he has a second form or more health bars. This is not to say if the Leblanc dives your carry, you shouldn't ult him. Every situation is different but a good rule to go by is: If your carry isn't or won't be in immediate danger, use your ult on the first person to die in the fight. Keep in mind all the enemies' cooldowns. For example, a Diana could have used an ult to take down your tank so you ulted him, but what you didn't notice is she got a reset off her Q and is now barreling down for your ADC. Always keep track of cooldowns and use your ult based off of how much extra damage it can get you in a teamfight.

Support Carries

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When I say support, I don't mean the role. Support carries are champions that do quite a bit of damage, but they're picked because they emphasize the other 4 teammates' abilities. Morgana's Q can do a lot of damage, but it makes some abilities that are normally difficult to hit, 100% accuracy. So how should you play when you're surrounded by champions that aren't going to tear up a teamfight? First off, you shouldn't have played Zilean into a team where you have no consistent damage source, but it's not the end of the game. Zilean's late game damage is very underestimated and you can carry a game in your own right. When you've assigned yourself to be the main carry, you have to play drastically different. This means that you have to be willing to flash in for stuns and ult yourself if you're in danger. Try to roam to different lanes to snowball your team, because even if they're more support oriented, they can still do insane damage when ahead. When backing from lane, you have a great option to gank side lanes by coming through base, mainly bot. Walk up to your support and make sure they know you're there, and speed him up, or the ADC. You will not be able to carry a game by destroying your laner, you just won't do enough damage even if you somehow dominate someone that hard as zilean. Get a lead and go roam, or you'll get wrecked in the mid to late game.

Conclusion Back to Top

Zilean is a champion that's both beginner friendly, and also a strong champion to master because of how game changing his abilities are. Even though Zilean isn't played much since the week of GBM's performance, he's still just as strong since nothing was changed about him in the patch since then. He's a strong champion to have as a pocket pick and can win a game with any of his abilities in the right scenario.



Best of luck reversing time on your opponents' ELO!

Updates By Patch Back to Top

Patch [6.4]: Guide was created


________________________________________________________________________________________________


Patch [6.5]: Zilean-Shen Ult Bugfix


Nothing major, but it does affect your coordination if you happen to have a Shen on your team. Let the Shen know about this change (assuming he knew this was a thing before; it was a bug). You should tell the Shen to ult whomever the target is AFTER he res's from your ult, or if the Shen ult will save him long enough for Shen to TP in. 

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