A breakdown of the issues regarding Zed.

_I hope that RIOT has a chance to read this, because i put a lot of time into researching and writing it and id be interested to see what they say, (but i don't expect them or anyone else to read such a wall if they don't want to hahaha xD) _ Zed is an interesting point of discussion atm, he is one of those champs like Riven that you either never play, or is the only champ that you play. Many people see him as a problem child (and his ban rate reflects that) so i decided to break down the actual issues surrounding Zed, why Zed mains insist he is terribly weak and hard to play, and why everyone else says otherwise, and where his power (and supposed power) actually comes from. I have played more than my fair share of Zed, and played more than my fair share against him as well. So I'm not talking through my ass here, and if you manage to get to the end of what will probably be a wall of text, then i take my hat off to you! Lets begin. No-one can deny it, {{champion:238}} is a cool champion. His theme is is the golden recipe: Dark character, thrives in the shadows, cool mask, badass voice, troubled past, etc etc. Its pretty hard to go wrong with that mix (Batman, Darth Vader, Sauron, The Witch King, Itachi Uchiha, V for Vendetta... the list goes on and on) and on top of all that he is a Ninja (the default fallback for easy popularity, among Pirates and Zombies), if you want to make something popular, slap Pirates Ninjas or Zombies in it and you have a winner, look at the top 3 anime: Naruto (Ninjas) Once Piece (Pirates) Bleach (Zombies). Look at Cinema: Pirates of the Carribean (Pirates) Batman (Ninjas.. or close enough) The walking Dead (Zombies). So by being the easy fallback option for popularity, Zed was always going to be popular. **Popularity:** So in other words, theres going to be a lot of them around, and popularity is one issue surrounding Zed's power. Zed is powerful, thats just the fact, but its his frequent appearance in games that makes his power annoying. Take champions like Galio or Anivia for example, those champions are huge powerhouses, Galio can live through pretty much anything, dish out enough damage to put Annie to shame, all while having one of the best team fight tools out there. Anivia can half your HP at lvl 2 while you are stunned and unable to trade, she then continues on to become a late game monster. These champs among others are champions that you curse RIOT for ever even considering during the game. After the game however, life returns to normal and you forget about their threat until a month or two later when you come across another one. Zed doesn't have that cooling off period, you get slammed by a Zed in lane, he roams and slams other lanes, and snowballs for the rest of the game, you tear out your hair, throw things at the screen, click 'play again' and get matched right up against yet another lvl 5 Zed, and that is one of the major features of why Zed has such a horrible reputation among most players. The more exposure we have of a problem, the more and more frustrated we get with it, thats human nature. **Theme:** Zed has a really well themed playstyle, probably one of league's best, when you play him you really do feel like Ninja jumping out of the shadows, striking down the target and then disappearing off into the night. While it had great benefits, the problem this presents is that it is very hard to create a playstyle that suits a 'Ninja' without making them too much for the enemy to handle. Let us look at Shen for a moment, Shen is a great champion (my personal favourite top laner) he too is themed as a Ninja, but unlike Zed, he really doesn't feel like it, he is blight blue, his abilities revolve around charging headlong into combat and smacking people with a bloody great sword made of light, one of his core items is sunfire cape, which means he walks around with flames cycling around him, it just doesn't feel like playing a Ninja. The same can be said for Kennen, the whole point of Kennen's character is to be a 'underestimated ninja' and that is exactly what he is, he feels like a kid in a ninja costume jumping from couch to couch that tbh no-one really cares about, he shoots lightning and summons thunderstorms, not exactly the typical Ninja-stealth approach. So both of those champions (while awesome champions) fail as Ninjas, Akali however hits closer to the mark, he playstyle revolves around carefully selecting a target, jumping lightning fast at them to take them down, and when trouble comes her way she throws a smoke bomb for cover to give her time to assess the situation and select a new target. That is very Ninja-like, but what lets her down is her appearance, she is bright Green her ability visuals and sounds effects are so dated, her smoke looks like magical pixie dust with sparkles and random pulsing lines, it significantly removes from the 'Ninja' feel. But with Zed, they did it right, Jumping from shadow to shadow, clean animations, and sharp deadly sounds, and here in-lies the problem, Ninja's are known for jumping around and being hard to see or catch, unfortunately making them feel like that in game, ironically enough actually makes them very hard to see or catch, which gives a Ninja theme a lot of unintended power. Zed of course needs quick dashes and mimicry to feel like a Ninja, but unfortunately for his main prey (ADC's and Mages) it offers little chance for defence, ADC's for example rely on clicking the mouse on the enemy they want to attack, this is very difficult when the thing you are trying to click on is jumping around all over the place and is very hard to predict, Zed has 3 shadows on the field and you have no way of knowing which ones he will jump to and in what order (if he even does jump) so being able to reliably click on their attacker to kite (while attempting to move to safety) is much much harder than trying to click on Ekko or Fizz or other assassins. On top of this you can not tell which shadows have already been jumped to, they just recently got indicators telling you which one is his ult, but there is no way of knowing what ones he can still jump to (your only option is seeing it happen and remembering, but in a team fight where brightly coloured spells are firing off in all direction, its not always the easiest thing to see a black and grey shadow flick instantly to somewhere else amongst the chaos.) It also makes prediction near impossible, if you're a mage like Vel'koz or Taliyah, your only defensive ability is your knock up and both those (especially Taliyah's) require lots of forethought and prediction to hit, and when your target has 3 possible locations (that he can switch between with no cast time) or an instant window of untargetablity, its just not possible to hit him effectively. Including flash, Zed has 5 possible position altering abilities (even Kassadin generally doesn't often get to change position that many times in a fight), and all but 1 of which is instantaneous with no indication. If you are an ADC trying to click on your attacker to kite (or more likely just accept your death and try to get a kill from the situation) or are a mage trying to land a skillshot, trying to click on a champion (that moves fairly quick anyway) and can jump to 1 of 5 different locations is a daunting task, and one that offers too little counterplay to give you a fair shot. **Role:** Zed is an assassin, assassins are an important part of the game, the champion that is most likely to be fed is the ADC or the Mage, and when either of those get out of control its very hard to stop. Introduce the assassin and you have a way of shutting down the carry without having to punch through their whole team to get to their back line. That is an important mechanic and one that is vital to the balance of league. However! it shouldn't be a certainty, just because a champion is structured to kill you, doesn't mean they shouldn't have to work for it, and it shouldn't mean that theres nothing you can do to stop them. Zed is just a little too good at taking out high priority targets with not enough risk to himself. To contrast with other assassins for a moment lets look at Ekko (at least in the role he is meant to play, not a tank Ekko) To assassinate the target, Ekko predicts the location of the target and prepares his stun, (if he misses the hard to hit stun, he puts himself at a major disadvantage and may have to choose not to go in) he then jumps past the front line with his dash onto the target preventing their escape with his skillshot, and has to try kill them from there, Ekko then has a choice to make as by now the rest of the team will be closing in on him, either he either presses the abort button, hoping his Q's return and/or ignite will finish the job, using up his only escape and a large portion of his damage in the process. Or chooses to stay to make sure his target dies, and putting his own life at great risk, hoping using his ult (which will have caught up to him now) will give him enough health for his team to reach him in time. Fizz has a similar decision, he sets up his ult first, if it goes to plan then he can dive in, if it doesn't then he has to re-think his plan of attack. Once he is in combat, his Q and W will be used offensively trying to kill the target his ult decimated, if it isn't enough to kill them, then he has to choose, use his E (and best chance of escape) to finish off the target, and risk dying trying to escape, or to E to safety leaving the target hoping his burn and ignite will do the trick. Zed's decision is far less life threatening, and far far less wasteful, he ults the target and deals as much damage as he can, he can then press R again to instantly jump back out of the fight. The key distinction between Zed and the other assassins, is that Zed does not sacrifice any damage by escaping, it is essentially a free escape and allows him to throw his full force at the target knowing that his escape is almost guaranteed. Almost every other assassin has to make a critical decision, fight or flight. That decision gives the enemy team some way of compensation, either the assailant leaves, hoping the target will die of their wounds, or they stay to fight. If the assassin flees, then the team as the possibility of saving the target, by healing/shielding them, hoping that the heal will out perform the ignite. Or they have the chance to fight and potentially kill the assassin, and score some gold for the team. It is this critical decision that gives assassins counterplay. Ahri's Ult, Ekko's Ult, Akali's ult, Kassadin's Ult, Talon's ult, Shaco's Q, Rengar's ult, Fizz's E, Jax's Stun, Lee Sin's Q/W/R, etc etc. each of them has some ability that can be either be used to either (but not both) secure the kill or secure your own safety. That decision is crucial to make sure that champ is not just an 'easy kill' machine. The other trade off that assassins have to deal with in order to be balanced, is less sustain, assassins are either incredibly squishy like Shaco, or are completely useless when their abilities are on CD after killing their target ike Kassadin. That is the price to be paid when you have s much burst damage. Zed however is AD (which means he instantly has more sustained damage than half of the rest of his peers) but unlike his peers, his build path makes him naturally quite sturdy giving him enough HP, resistances and lifesteal to survive long enough for his abilities to come off cooldown, (or sometimes to duel his opponents just with his Auto attacks and passive) So being naturally more sturdy while having decent sustained damage, as well as being able to bypass that critical fight or flight decision, makes Zed far more adept at doing his job (and more) than the other assassins, and gives less and less chances for his targets and their team to recover. **Kit:** Zed sacrifices almost all CC for damage, this means his damage should be strong, he has made that trade off, so that is fair! What he still has though is incredibly diverse mobility, as well as a lengthy period of untargetablity. His w offers a unique mechanic, he can extend the range of his damage without putting himself at much risk, and if that damage does enough to engage he can instantly switch with his shadow to be right next to his target to deal the killing blow. Unlike talon who has to put his own life bar in range of the enemy if he wants to get theirs in range of his abilities. This safe poke means that Zed often has the health advantage in lane, and unlike other champs that rely on poke before engaging, Zed is not punished for spam poke because he doesn't use mana, and any energy used in a poke is fully replenished in a few seconds time. Usually in the mid lane, you don't take something for nothing, and if someone pokes you, you poke them back or you use their cooldowns to get hard to reach minions. Zed's poke doesn't offer that opportunity, when he throws that shadow at you, you are instantly damaged and slowed by his E, and you know that the Shuriken comes next, any half-decent Zed will be able to hit a slowed target with the shuriken, so unless you have an escape, you have 2 options, either move away and be hit by 1 shuriken. Or stay there/move towards him to poke or get minions, and get damaged by BOTH shuriken, (and thunderlords as well, which will proc on the second shuriken) This gives Zed too much safety and poke resistance for an all in assassin, especially seeming an assassin's weakness in lane is to poked down enough so that they cant engage on you. The other thing that makes his laning powerful is his Passive, his passive allows him to last hit minions at far above the usual last-hit health, meaning he has more time to last hit multiple low HP minions, and isn't as easily forced into a situation where he might have to risk poke damage to last hit a minion before it dies, his Q also gives him a high damage ranged ability with no long term cost in order to get tricky minions. This even further reduces the risk of being poked down by a lane opponent. **Difficulty:** Zed's difficulty is a bit of a misnomer, he is indeed harder to play than a lot of champs, but is far from being as hard to play as people like to think. He is a lot like Fizz in this respect, his combos misleadingly look really tricky and complicated (and are for their targets) but their number of combos available to him actually are very limited. In order for Zed to be effective, he has to cast either (or both) W and R before casting Q and E, which means the only truly effective combos he has are RWEQ or WREQ (notice how the last one is read as 'wreck' i thought that was funny xD) so in essence he only has 2 combos he needs to worry about setting up, so unlike someone like Azir who has multiple combos for different situations (and the wrong one could cos his life, or cost him a kill) Zed doesn't have to worry about using the wrong combo at the wrong time. And as far as combos go they aren't very hard, if you hold your mouse over the target and press all the buttons, the combo happens just the way you want it to even to move you don;t need to take your cursor off the target, in stark contrast we have someone like Taliyah, who needs to move her mouse constantly on and off the target issuing movement commands and making sure her Knockup will hit the enemy at the right time (everyone who has played Taliyah knows that if you activate your knockup directly under someone, they will be long gone by the time it activates.) Zed has none of that pre-planning. He can burst his full combo at a moments notice without ever needing to take his cursor off the target. Zed lacks any setup 'i can only go in if X ability hits' moves, someone like Nami will ruin the entire play if she misses her bubble, If Shen misses his dash he is in trouble, Morgana cant make a move until she lands a Q, even Katarina has to make sure her Q hits the right target before going in. Zed lacks anything like that, which means he can be active in virtually any situation with very few consequences. As far as gameplay difficulty goes, Zed has it pretty easy, His W is an excellent escape, he buys an item which gives him a large movement speed boost, and if push comes to shove he can dodge any potentially fatal abilities by poping his ult, this means that Zed is a very forgiving champ in terms of positioning, a simple W, or item activation, or even an ult in drastic situations, will get him out of most sticky situations with relatively little consequence. Contrast this with champions like Aurelion Sol (who i would probably deem to be Zed's polar opposite) Unlike Zed, Sol's Kit is very straightforward, and its difficulty relies not in how fast you push buttons (like Zed), but in keen positioning, and any high elo player will tell you that positioning is everything in this game. If Zed is caught out, he can W somewhere safe (even over walls), burst his move-speed item, even ult. If Sol is caught out, he gets a 1 way ticket to the Shadow Isles. This shows how little Zed needs to think about positioning (one of leagues most important aspects) in order to be effective compared with other champions, this cuts a huge chunk of difficulty out of his playstyle. Zed's difficulty and Zed's perceived difficulty are two very different things, he jumps around all over the place, throwing shuriken from 3 different locations. It looks really hard to observers (and to Zed mains with something to prove) but in actuality it requires far less mental effort. he is definitely far from brain dead, but isn't as intelligent as many would like to believe. **Items:** Zed is one of only a few champions, that their very presence in a game (fed or not) forces certain itemisation changes. For mages its Zhonya's, many mages are put at a disadvantage because they are forced to abandon more ideal build paths and buy Zhonya's as either a first or second item. This hits especially hard on champions that like to rush RoA, because they then not only have to buy an item that may be less efficient on them, but also have to wait longer to get to RoA's full stacks, which puts them at an even greater disadvantage against a champ that is already their counter. Champs like Taliyah, Aurelion Sol, Karthus, and Kassadin fall into this category. Most other mid laners do not force such an immediate and essential item change for their opponents just by being in the game. If your opponent is ahead and is harassing you too much, you might invest in some early magic resist or armour, but unlike them, Zed requires the finished item. With the recent QSS removal ADC's now have no item that directly counters Zed short of stacking armour (which is not what an ADC should be doing) we all joke about it, but i have seen ADC's selling items and buying Zhonya's (in ranked as well) because they couldn't do anything against Zed. As for Zed's own items, it is just unfortunate (or fortunate if you are in Zed's shoes) that Zed's items just happen to give him all the exact stats he needs, and at the correct times for him to have them. Black cleaver gives him easy armour pen and enough HP to survive most conflicts, and Maw allows him to build a great item from any MR he buys to stop poke in lane (a luxury many other mid laners don't have, due to inefficient building paths). The implementation of serrated dirk was a god-send for Zed, a buff that he still hasn't come back from, it boosts his early (very early) game damage, much more than any equivalent AP item boosts his opponent. It gives him a lot more bonus damage, and very very early armour pen, this early armour pen helps him cut through the early armour of mages trying to build Zhonya's (making the item even less efficient for them) and it has no magic equivalent, in other words there is no early item that helps mages cut through the early MR he buys for Maw, its a one way destructive cycle, and this item is not situational, 3 of his core items build from it, it is literally the perfect item for him. Its too efficient. The icing on the cake however is Duskblade (which builds from Dirk) this item helps AD assassins where no help is needed. Im not going to say it gives Zed a second ult, because it doesn't. What it gives him is an unnecessary extra source of damage that in turn buffs his ult, Nightfall (duskblade's passive) does base damage +25% of the targets missing HP, his ult deals 45% of this damage back, meaning that duskblade essentially causes his ult to do around +10% of the targets missing HP, as well as all the other damage. Also seeming Nightfall's icon is much harder to see than his ult's people try to time their Zhonya's or barrier/heal to reduce as much damage from the ult as possible, they are so fixed on watching his ult icon then they don't realise Nightfall is there until too late, and it actually kills them before they Zhonya's. On top of this 3 of his core items (not including boots) boost his movement speed, meaning that even without all his dashes he still easily out-chases most champions, and makes him even slipperier to catch. With champions, the idea is to build items that have the least wastage and most benefit your champion. Zed's items are just too good, they buff all the right stats without buffing anything unnecessary. Most mages always end up with a little too much mana or other stat, or some item passive that helps their kit, but not as much as it would for other champs. Zed's items are truly optimised for that champion. And on top of his items being perfect for him, and naturally building MR armour pen which counters the builds of other champions without even adjusting his build path, he also forces his opponents to buy a less efficient item very early in the game. All of these factors really stack up in a game. These are the main important issues surrounding Zed's rise to infamy, some of them i believe to be very strong issues that need attention, others less so, (if anything i expect his 50%+ ban rate to speak for itself) I do think that Zed is an awesome champion with awesome skins and i would hate to see him not played, but i do believe he is too strong at the current time and there are too many Zed players out there for the issues to remain un-adressed. I congratulate you if you read to the bottom of this page, you must either hate/love Zed enough to read it, or just be very interested in the game. Good day to you all. {{champion:238}} PS. There may be typos, if there are, i do apologise.
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