How to counter Zed, the master of shadows. A highly mobile assassin in League of Legends that requires a combination of strategy, game knowledge, and quick reflexes. Here’s a detailed guide on how to effectively counter Zed and win against him.

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1) Zed Abilities Overview:

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  • Contempt for the Weak (Passive):
  • Zed’s passive, Contempt for the Weak, enhances his basic attacks against low-health targets, dealing bonus magic damage. This encourages Zed to finish off weakened enemies quickly, rewarding him with burst potential in skirmishes and team fights.

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  • Razor Shuriken (Q):
  • Razor Shuriken is Zed’s primary poking and wave-clear ability. It’s a skill shot that deals physical damage to the first enemy hit. Zed can cast this ability twice in quick succession, making it versatile for both harassment and all-in engagements. Skilled Zed players can aim their shurikens to hit multiple targets or poke from unexpected angles.

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  • Living Shadow (W):
  • Living Shadow provides Zed with mobility and outplay potential. Zed’s shadow dashes forward, mimicking his abilities and basic attacks for a short duration. This ability allows Zed to harass enemies from a safe distance, set up plays, and escape sticky situations. Mastering Living Shadow is crucial for Zed players to maximize their damage output and survivability.

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  • Shadow Slash (E):
  • Shadow Slash is Zed’s area-of-effect ability, dealing damage to nearby enemies around him. When Zed hits enemies with both his own slash and his shadow’s slash, he gains bonus damage. This ability is essential for wave-clearing, trading in lane, and applying pressure in team fights. Skilled Zed players use Shadow Slash in combination with Living Shadow to position themselves for optimal damage output.

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  • Death Mark (R):
  • Death Mark is Zed’s signature ultimate ability, allowing him to mark an enemy champion and dash to them after a short delay. Upon arrival, Zed detonates the mark, dealing a significant amount of physical damage based on the target’s maximum health and Zed’s attack damage. Death Mark also grants Zed increased attack damage for a few seconds, amplifying his burst potential. This ability defines Zed’s playstyle as an assassin, enabling him to swiftly eliminate priority targets and snowball fights in his team’s favor.

2) Zed Power Spikes

  • Level 3:
  • At level 3, Zed unlocks all three of his basic abilities: Razor Shuriken (Q), Living Shadow (W), and Shadow Slash (E). This grants him a significant increase in his kill potential and trading capabilities in lane.

  • With access to his full kit, Zed can effectively poke, harass, and all-in his opponents. He can use Living Shadow to close the gap, Shadow Slash to deal area-of-effect damage, and Razor Shuriken to poke from a distance.

  • Level 3 is a crucial moment for Zed players to exert pressure on their opponents, especially if they have been conserving their energy and health in the early levels.

  • Level 6:
  • Zed’s ultimate ability, Death Mark, becomes available at level 6, marking a significant power spike for him. Death Mark allows Zed to mark an enemy champion and dash to them after a brief delay, dealing massive physical damage upon arrival.

  • With Death Mark, Zed gains the ability to execute low-health targets or initiate all-in engagements with confidence. The threat of Zed’s ultimate forces opponents to play more cautiously and respect his kill potential.

  • Level 6 is when Zed becomes a formidable threat in both solo skirmishes and team fights, as he can quickly eliminate priority targets and snowball the game in his team’s favor.

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3) Item Spikes:

  1. Duskblade of Draktharr:

    • Duskblade of Draktharr is a core item for Zed, providing lethality, attack damage, and a unique passive that grants bonus damage after being unseen by enemy champions. Completing Duskblade significantly increases Zed’s burst potential and assassination capabilities.

    • The passive from Duskblade synergizes well with Zed’s hit-and-run playstyle, allowing him to deal burst damage from the shadows and quickly vanish before his opponents can retaliate.

    • Zed players often prioritize rushing Duskblade to maximize their kill pressure and snowball the game in their favor.

  2. Youmuu’s Ghostblade:
    • Youmuu’s Ghostblade is another core item for Zed, providing lethality, attack damage, and an active ability that grants bonus movement speed and attack speed for a short duration.

    • The active from Youmuu’s Ghostblade enhances Zed’s mobility and dueling potential, allowing him to quickly engage or disengage from fights. This item complements Zed’s hit-and-run playstyle and makes him even more elusive and difficult to catch.

    • Completing Youmuu’s Ghostblade further amplifies Zed’s burst damage and roaming potential, enabling him to exert pressure on multiple lanes and secure kills across the map.

4) General Strategies to Counter Zed

Champion Selection:

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  1. High Mobility Champions:
    • Champions with dashes, blinks, or high mobility abilities can evade Zed’s skill shots and ultimate, making it difficult for him to land his combos effectively. Examples include Ahri, LeBlanc, and Yasuo.

  2. Crowd Control (CC) Champions:
    • Champions with reliable crowd control abilities can lock down Zed, preventing him from dealing damage or escaping. Stuns, roots, silences, and knock-ups disrupt Zed’s combos and limit his mobility. Consider champions like Lissandra, Malzahar, and Veigar.

  3. Tanky Bruisers:
    • Tanky champions with sustain and dueling potential can withstand Zed’s burst damage and outlast him in trades. Building armor and health items reduces the effectiveness of Zed’s all-in attempts. Examples include Galio, Sett, and Mordekaiser.

  4. Burst Mages:
    • Some burst mages possess enough burst damage to quickly burst down Zed before he can kill them with his ultimate. These champions can punish Zed’s aggressive plays and force him to play defensively. Consider champions like Syndra, Annie, and Viktor.

5) Lane Management:

  • Positioning:
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  1. Stay behind minions to block Zed’s Razor Shuriken (Q) and reduce his poke and wave-clear potential. Minimize opportunities for Zed to land his abilities by maintaining proper spacing and utilizing terrain to your advantage.

  2. Roaming Awareness:

    • Keep track of Zed’s movements and alert your teammates when he goes missing from lane. Zed excels at roaming and snowballing other lanes with his mobility and burst damage. Use pings and communicate with your team to prevent Zed from securing kills in other lanes.


6) Zed Counter Itemization:

  1. Seeker’s Armguard:
    • Rush Seeker’s Armguard against Zed to gain armor and bonus ability power based on unit kills. This item provides much-needed survivability against Zed’s physical damage and increases your trading potential in lane. Upgrade it to Zhonya’s Hourglass later for the active ability to negate Zed’s Death Mark damage.

  2. Ninja Tabi:
    • Consider purchasing Ninja Tabi to reduce Zed’s basic attack damage and mitigate his auto-attack harass in lane. Ninja Tabi provides armor and reduces incoming damage from basic attacks, making it an effective defensive option against Zed’s physical damage.

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3. Guardian Angel:

  • Buying Guardian Angel later in the game provides a second life, making Zed think twice about diving onto you. Guardian Angel’s passive revive effect can turn the tide of team fights and discourage Zed from targeting you as his primary focus.

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7) Gameplay Tips to Counter Zed Successfully:

  1. Watch Zed’s Energy:
    • Zed’s abilities cost energy, which is a finite resource. Punish Zed when he’s low on energy, as he won’t be able to retaliate effectively or continue trading aggressively. Manage your health and cooldowns accordingly to capitalize on Zed’s resource limitations.

  2. Predictive Movement:
    • Anticipate Zed’s movements and skill shots to dodge them effectively. Sidestepping Zed’s Razor Shuriken (Q) and Living Shadow (W) can significantly reduce his damage output and create opportunities for counterattacks. Use your mobility and positioning to outmaneuver Zed and force him into unfavorable engagements.

  3. Save Crowd Control:
    • If you’re playing a champion with crowd control abilities, save them for when Zed uses Death Mark to prevent him from following up with additional damage. Timing crowd control effects such as stuns, silences, or knock-ups can interrupt Zed’s combos and give your team the upper hand in skirmishes and team fights.

  4. Coordinate with Team:
    • Communicate with your team to focus Zed in team fights and peel for your carries to prevent Zed from assassinating them. Coordinate crowd control abilities, item actives, and defensive spells to protect high-priority targets and shut down Zed’s assassination attempts.


Remember, to counter Zed requires a mix of champion selection, game knowledge, and mechanical skill. Practice these strategies, and you’ll find yourself more capable of dealing with the Master of Shadows.