All Guides Zilean Guides Zilean mid - the unsuspecting blind pick
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Zilean Statistics for Halaal Pineapple

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

Value
Average
Games Played
79
6
Win %
59
44
Kills
3.7
2.8
Assists
9.3
10.8
Deaths
4.5
5.5
KA:D Ratio
2.8
2.5
Gold Earned
11.4K
9.4K
Creep Score
168.8
77.8
Average
  • Author Champion Statistics
  • Guide Details

Summoner Spells Back to Top

4.png

You should take Flash every game. It provides unparalleled safety and the ability to make more plays once you're comfortable with the champion.

12.png

Teleport is your default second summoner, which you pick unless you have a good reason to pick something else depending on the circumstances. Advantages of Teleport include:
- Ability to back and get straight back into lane once you have enough gold for Tear (and perhaps a couple pots of control ward).
- Ability to support other lanes on demand - don't underestimate Zilean's roaming potential!
- Ability to safely split push occasionally while getting back to your team if a fight ensues over objectives.

1.png

You should consider taking Cleanse when you are likely to die in CC. Despite his ult Zilean is extremely squishy and you could easily get 100-0 without ulting in lane if the enemy jungler gets a good gank on you, or you could be CC'd and unable to ult a team mate. Cues to consider taking cleanse:
- Opposing laner has hard CC (e.g. Ahri, Ryze, Veigar)
- Jungler has hard CC (e.g. Vi, Jax, Evelyn)
- Generally high CC on the opposing team

14.png

Ignite is an option depending on your playstyle. Zilean is fairly passive in lane for the first few levels, but you can definitely poke someone out of lane if you can land bombs consistently. Because your all-ins are very weak compared to most champions Ignite can give you the extra oomph to kill the opposing laner if they misplay, particularly after first back and until the midgame.

I would argue Ignite is not the strongest summoner on Zilean since you typically depend on ganks to score kills in lane, but it's a better option in very low elo where people won't respect your E + double bomb + AAs all in.

3.png

Exhaust is in my opinion very situational on Zilean. It can be taken against Assassins to counter their all-in, but generally speaking you should play to position yourself in such a way that it doesn't happen to begin with. If someone like Zed all-ins you without ult he can realistically take 60% of your HP before you exhaust, so I would only ever take this if you're extremely confident you can react fast enough. 

Exhaust can also help you land bombs, but you already have E for that (which has a slightly longer range than Exhaust anyway).

21.png

A decent all-round defensive tool in a more defensive matchup. Generally better options due to Zilean's range safety, but you may want to consider taking this if you're starting out.

New Runes Back to Top

The above page is a good default page. I highly encourage you to change your runes around depending on the matchup (70% enemy laner, 30% enemy team). Some considerations:


PRIMARY RUNES

Arcane%20Comet.png?width=32 vs. Summon%20Aerie.png?width=32: Both are good options and the choice won't make or break it for you, so it's a bit up to preference. Generally speaking they both aid your early game, while Aery provides a shield later on when you start E'ing your team mates. Some considerations:
- Opposing laner is immobile (favours Arcane%20Comet.png?width=32)
- You have hypercarries on your team (favours Summon%20Aerie.png?width=32)
- You are planning on building more aggressive, with a MPen build (favours Arcane%20Comet.png?width=32)
- Opposing laner is melee (favours Summon%20Aerie.png?width=32)


Manaflow%20Band.png?width=32 vs. The%20Ultimate%20Hat.png?width=32 vs. Nullifying%20Orb.png?width=32: I believe Manaflow%20Band.png?width=32 to be the best rune on this tier. Many people will take The%20Ultimate%20Hat.png?width=32 instead, but I personally feel the extra mana (particularly early on) outweights the lower ultimate CD. In reality The%20Ultimate%20Hat.png?width=32 will only make a difference situationally, and by late game it's only really taking some 5 seconds off your ult CD, and it is designed to provide greater value on champs with a high ult CD who do not build 40% CDR. Due to Zilean's weak early game and need for mana Manaflow%20Band.png?width=32becomes a really strong rune early game, while remaining decent for the rest of the game. Lastly, Nullifying%20Orb.png?width=32 is still an option, particularly against assassins like Fizz or Ahri if you're not very confident in the matchup, though be careful it doesn't mess up your ult. I generally feel Manaflow%20Band.png?width=32will give you the mana to farm safely if needed, making Nullifying%20Orb.png?width=32 a bit of a mute option if you're positioning correctly and respect the enemy laner.


Transcendence.png?width=32 vs. Celerity.png?width=32 vs. Absolute%20Focus.png?width=32: Honestly all of these are good. I will take Transcendence.png?width=32 virtually every game because it provides greater flexibility in my builds. Zilean benefits from as much CDR as possible as early as possible. By taking any other rune you are postponing your CDR when you build things like 3165.png or 3020.png, and makes 3158.png a bit too mandatory for my taste, taking away both offensive and defensive boot options. That said, Celerity.png?width=32 is a pretty strong rune and provides a small AP boost when you E yourself (tip: bombs calculate damage at the time they blow up).


Scorch.png?width=32 vs. Gathering%20Storm.png?width=32: again, both are strong and I will take either depending on the game. Think of Scorch.png?width=32 as an early game rune and Gathering%20Storm.png?width=32 as a late game rune. Motivations for this choice:
- You can poke your opposing laner out, or have kill potential (favours Scorch.png?width=32)
- Opposing team has a lot of waveclear, and the game is likely to drag on (favours Gathering%20Storm.png?width=32)
- You expect a very passive laning phase (favours Gathering%20Storm.png?width=32)
- You will get a chance to roam a lot early on, such as when the opposing laner has poor waveclear (favours Scorch.png?width=32)

Sorcery vs. Inspiration primary: you can also take Summoner%20Specialist.png?width=32 instead of going Sorcery. Generally speaking this is more of an option in organised play, where you expect less trades and less fighting. This detracts a bit from your early trading power and focuses more on scaling, and on a supportive playstyle for your team. While it is definitely viable I would suggest Sorcery in solo queue as it's more likely to provide the value you need.

SECONDARY RUNES

Perfect%20Timing.png?width=32: Useful against assassins and when you are likely to want to build 3157.png. Situational, but can be considered. Be mindful the 2419.png only shows up 10 minutes in, and I would advise you not to pair this with Biscuit%20Delivery.png?width=32 due to inventory space constraints!

Magical%20Footwear.png?width=32: Solid rune. Gives you a 300g advantage and 10 extra MS which is really good. Think of this as a default option, which you may want to give up when:
- You need early boots (e.g. versing artillery, like Lux, Xerath, Vel'koz)
- You would rather get Perfect%20Timing.png?width=32

Biscuit%20Delivery.png?width=32: Decent rune. Gives you better sustain in lane and permanent extra mana. I personally think that if you're going with Manaflow%20Band.png?width=32 you don't really need this to much, but it's good on matchups where you're getting poked and are competing for waveclear (e.g. Xerath and Vel'Koz).

Futures%20Market.png?width=32: I never really build this, so I'm not the best person to inform on its advantages. Having thought long and hard about it I just don't think it's good enough in comparison to the alternatives.

Minion%20Dematerializer.png?width=32: Decent option when you're:
- In a hard matchup and might get zoned from CS and would rather push the lane in
- Struggling to one-shot casters early on - particularly applies if you don't expect an easy time farming. If your AP/xp is falling behind this can help you keep your waveclear up to speed.
- Struggling to get those cannon minions (once you're decent enough with Zilean don't take the shortcut!)
- Against hard waveclear (e.g. post-6 Anivia, Malzahar)
- Can safely shove waves in early on and make them miss CS (quite situational, Veigar is a good example)

Cosmic%20Insight.png?width=32: Standard rune. Gives you extra CDR right from the start of the game. It's a decent rune, but can be easily taken out for a better situational option.

Taste%20of%20Blood.png?width=32: You can choose to go Domination and get this when you can safely land autos and need sustain. This provides a lot of sustain over time and is actually quite a solid rune.

Eyeball%20Collection.png?width=32Zombie%20Ward.png?width=32Ghost%20Poro.png?width=32: all of these are decent. If you want extra vision, such as when versing junglers with versatile ganking paths (e.g. Shaco, Lee Sin) you can pick up Ghost%20Poro.png?width=32Zombie%20Ward.png?width=32 is becoming less impressive since the nerf and is mostly used to prolong your wards; decent if you plan on getting 3364.pngEyeball%20Collection.png?width=32 is more of a standard default rune.

Relentless%20Hunter.png?width=32: this is the only rune in this tier you should ever pick. Underated and quite strong if you are planning on roaming a lot, as it stacks with your timewarp.png.

Second%20Wind.png?width=32: This is a strong rune if you're getting poked a lot. I will generally not go into Resolve, but it can be an option if you're getting 2 solid rune picks for the particular matchup. Don't bother with any other rune in this tier as they don't provide enough value to a squishy.

Bone%20Plating.png?width=32: Decent option.  Again, would only take Resolve if both this and Second%20Wind.png?width=32 are going to help you significantly. I might consider it against artillery mages for example, but overall I think there are probably better rune strategies in these matchups focusing on waveclear rather than sustain.

Abilities Back to Top

Q
W
E
Q
Q
R
Q
E
Q
E
R
E
E
W
W
R
W
W
Passive
Q
1
4
5
7
9
W
2
14
15
17
18
E
3
8
10
12
13
R
6
11
16
PASSIVE: Use this on whoever roams to your lane, or whatever lane you roam to, or even when you back. You really don't need to think about this too much and I would just take my chance to use it on whoever shows up.

Q: Zilean's bread and butter, which you should max first every game. Levelling your Q will give you very high base damage, lower CD and increase the double bomb stun duration. This is fundamental for trading and waveclear. Being able to land poke and double bombs is something you will need to master to make the most out of Zilean. Double bombs are ludicrously powerful, giving you an AOE 1.5sec stun (comparable to a bunch of ults) on an extremely short cooldown.

W: This ability is what allows you to double bomb and what makes Zilean scale into the late game. Many people will max this before , but I prefer to max it last. Maxing W earlier simply allows you to double bomb more often - that's it. Early on especially this is just a mana sink. Whereas maxing E...

E: Make no mistake, this ability is absurdly strong, which is why I prefer to max it second. When maxed this is a 99% speed boost or a 99% slow, lasting for 2.5 seconds, which you can potentially use back to back after some CDR and W ranks, basically keeping someone in place for some 6.5 seconds. It's point and click, so you can't miss it either. With maxed E you can:
- Guarantee double bombs on the target whenever they are unable to dash/blink/stopwatch etc. out of it
- Doom a carry to death if you land this and your team is able to engage
- Give your tanks much better engage
- Save your carries 
This also makes you a much greater threat in lane, as your opponent must respect your E range or get double bombed. It also makes it extremely easy for your jungler to pounce on the enemy laner!

R: Zilean's iconic ultimate is really what tips his skillset over the edge. As soon as you get your ult you become extremely hard to kill in lane, and later on the low cooldown on this ability makes it the ultimate tilting mechanism. The beauty of Zilean's kit is that even if you're behind you have plenty of tools to support your team. Keep in mind that even though  is a point and click ability, using it is an art:
- You don't want to use it too soon, as it may be wasted. Timing your ult can be difficult
- You don't want to die without it
- You don't want to get CC'd while your team mate dies
Extra note: your R scales with AP, and will effectively restore someone to full health if you're building a lot of it. This is a notable advantage compared to Zilean support.

Items Back to Top

Starting Items

Core Items

    Boots

Situational Items

    Defensive options
    Follow-up items
    Other options
STARTING ITEMS
I start 1056.png & 2x 2003.png every single game. Doran's Ring is in my opinion the undisputable best start on Zilean. This is because:
- The mana regen works off Zilean's very high base mana regen, making it extra strong on him
- The health provides safety to a very weak and squishy early game Zilean
- He really needs the mana it gives!



FIRST BACK
In the current meta you really want 3070.png on your first back. Depending on the situation you may want to back as soon as you have the gold for this, or you may opt to stay in lane, ideally backing when the next cannon wave shows up. When you have additional gold you can get 
1001.png: when you need to dodge a lot of skillshots in lane
2031.png or 2003.png: depending on how much gold you have. if you need sustain to survive lane (particularly against poke champions)
2055.png: if you don't desperately need the potions and have some gold, I really advise getting one or even two of these
1082.png: a solid "I need more laning power" item. Get this if you just need a little extra oomph of trading power in lane, or if you're forced to back at an awkard amount of gold. When you're thinking of buying this be careful to plan your item slots carefully (e.g. 2010.png + 2403.png + 1056.png + 2031.png + 1082.png will mean you need to sell something quick and won't get enough value out of your gold). You can upgrade to 3041.png if you're fed and feel safe, though I would advise this is very situational and I would only do it at 10 stacks.



CORE ITEMS
I used to build 3027.png or the old 3030.png almost every game, and would never build 3070.png. After the AP item changes I began to build 3070.png into 3027.png, but have since stopped building 3027.png altogether. The reality is 3003.png will give you all the mana you need! While 3027.png is a great scaling item and makes you tankier, it will be delaying your power spike too much in most cases. By taking it you're not getting that sweet 20% CDR until your second item, making you a lot less useful as the midgame objective contests begin. This also means that you need to play ever safer as you're going to be super squishy, but the shield from 3040.png will help a lot if you time it right (and Zilean stacks it really quickly, for the record).

TLDR: I have began to build 3003.png first every single game, because it's such a strong power spike. You don't need extra mana in addition to this item.


3285.png & 3030.png: both of these items are good on Zilean. Luden's gives you poke damage, GLP is a very gold efficient power spike and helps you land double bombs from a longer range. If you really want to build one of these know that you will struggle manawise without something else to support. That's okay-ish in a really short game, but you'll definitely feel the gap as the game drags on. You then have two options:
1. Build 3070.png > 3030.png/3285.png > 3003.png. This is a fairly popular option, but has two pitfalls: the extra mana is partially wasted value, and you lose 10% CDR worth of gold. This makes it a fairly gold inneficient option.
2. Build 3027.png > 3030.png/3285.png. This is in my opinion a pretty reasonable option if for some reason you expect to have a lot of time to scale. The principal disadvantage is the delay to your 20% CDR power spike I mentioned above.

3158.png: Good all-round boots which give you 10% CDR to support your other build choices. I tend to build this more if I expect to depend a lot on my team to win and I'm not head.

3020.png: These are really good if you're managed to farm well and/or got a kill or two early on. Your poke with these and 3916.png really skyrockets and if you get really ahead you can even 100-0 squishies with double bomb and Arcane%20Comet.png?width=32.



DEFENSIVE ITEMS
Don't be afraid to build items that will help you survive lane, especially if you're behind. This means you can build an early 1033.png or 1029.png if you need to, particularly if you're up against a lane bully who got ahead in gold. This tends to apply more pre-6, as your ult provides a significant safety net, but in some matchups you may want a bit extra safety. You can then build:

3111.png: strong item when you're against an AP midlaner and the enemy team has strong CC (e.g. Syndra matchup). This can really give you that split second to ult yourself.

3047.png: good against full-AD teams and AD assassins. I wouldn't build this by default, but it's an option if you need an early 1029.png and would rather not build 3157.png.

3191.png/3157.png: Situationally good, particularly against multiple assassins. The question tends to be "can I save my ult for someone else by buying this?"

3102.png: I really won't build this very often, particularly due to how widespread 3285.png is at the moment and how easily it pops your spellshield when it hits a nearby minion. It can however be a good item when:
- There's lot of magic damage on the enemy team
- Your spellshield won't be easily popped (typically means a medium-short range midlaner)
- Your spellshield might protect you from key abilities, particularly long-range CC (e.g. Bard ult, Malphite ult, Syndra E).



OTHER ITEMS
Once you have your core item(s) and any defensive items you may have built you can start looking into a range of options for your next items.

3916.png/3165.png: Orb of shadows if a fantastic power spike early on after you complete your core items. It's a good option if you're well farmed and the enemy team isn't too tanky. Depending on the enemy team you can leave it and not upgrade the item until later. If a couple enemy champions rely on healing (e.g. Vladimir, Akali, Warwick, Soraka) definitely 100% build  3165.png as a second item. Grievous Wounds will counter healing champions quite hard and give you a big edge in team fights.

3089.png: Boosts your damage and your ult healing. Typically a third or fourth item when you want the scaling.

3135.png: I would argue this is somewhat situational as the effectiveness of your damage against tanks isn't fantastic to begin with. If there'd at least 3 people building MR across the board (particularly if carries are building it) you can think about building this as a third or even second item, but probably fourth of fifth. If you're fed this becomes a higher priority since your damage will be more meaningful, whereas if you're playing to support your team more there will be items which help you more.

3907.png: Very situational, as this is more fit for an assassin playstyle. That said it's a gold efficient item, and if you feel movement speed is what you need then this is the item can be considered.

3151.png: A decent item that just doesn't make the cut most of the time. I would consider building this as a late item, particularly against tanky teams.

2065.png: I haven't yet had the chance to playtest this much at all, so would leave it to your consideration. It's reasonably gold efficient with a solid active and I think it may occasionally be the right item to build, particularly if you're playing a comp that needs some help to engage/disengage.

Matchups Back to Top

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

  • Ahri
    Medium
  • Akali
    Easy
  • Anivia
    Medium
  • Annie
    Medium
  • Aurelion Sol
    Hard
  • Azir
    Medium
  • Brand
    Medium
  • Cassiopeia
    Easy
  • Corki
    Medium
  • Ekko
    Medium
  • Fizz
    Hard
  • Galio
    Medium
  • Heimerdinger
    Medium
  • Karma
    Hard
  • Karthus
    Medium
  • Kassadin
    Easy
  • Katarina
    Hard
  • LeBlanc
    Hard
  • Lissandra
    Easy
  • Lux
    Medium
  • Malzahar
    Medium
  • Orianna
    Medium
  • Ryze
    Easy
  • Swain
    Medium
  • Twisted Fate
    Medium
  • Veigar
    Medium
  • Viktor
    Medium
  • Vladimir
    Medium
  • Xerath
    Medium
  • Yasuo
    Hard
  • Zed
    Hard
  • Ziggs
    Medium
  • Zoe
    Medium

VS

Ahri

Medium

VS

Akali

Easy

VS

Anivia

Medium

VS

Annie

Medium

VS

Aurelion Sol

Hard

VS

Azir

Medium

VS

Brand

Medium

VS

Cassiopeia

Easy

VS

Corki

Medium

VS

Ekko

Medium

VS

Fizz

Hard

VS

Galio

Medium

VS

Heimerdinger

Medium

VS

Karma

Hard

VS

Karthus

Medium

VS

Kassadin

Easy

VS

Katarina

Hard

VS

LeBlanc

Hard

VS

Lissandra

Easy

VS

Lux

Medium

VS

Malzahar

Medium

VS

Orianna

Medium

VS

Ryze

Easy

VS

Swain

Medium

VS

Twisted Fate

Medium

VS

Veigar

Medium

VS

Viktor

Medium

VS

Vladimir

Medium

VS

Xerath

Medium

VS

Yasuo

Hard

VS

Zed

Hard

VS

Ziggs

Medium

VS

Zoe

Medium

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