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Malzahar Guide

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RotomAppliance

Junior Member

01-16-2012

Hey guys, my name is RotomAppliance and this is my first attempt at a guide. Apologies for the the rather wall of text format, but all of the stuff put in is relevant discussion not padding. Any constructive feedback much appreciated, not interested in flames.

Introduction
I see Malzahar as something of an all-rounder. While he is not bad early game, he also scales decently into the lategame. He can be played aggressively in lane, or just passively farm every creep in every wave with his visions. He has reasonable 1 v 1 kill potential, but plenty of AOE for teamfights too. He can push down towers early, he can gank well, he can respond well to his jungler ganking. Whatever playstyle he chooses to adopt, a well played Malzahar can easily carry his team at any stage of the game.

Abilities
Summon Voidling (passive): Easily underestimated. The voidling summoned after 4 spells can help you push down towers, tank a tower or skillshot or provide that extra bit of damage for a kill. There is no skill to using it since your pets are uncontrollable, other than making sure you have it up at the right time.

Call of the Void: Another easily underestimated move in my experience, probably because it's hard to land consistently. The base damage and AP ratios are high, and it silences for 3 seconds at level 5. In some lanes this is your best form of harassment due to the long range, in teamfights it can be extremely disruptive if you can hit most of the enemy team. Practice using it, get used to the delay and the angle of the gate. I usually level this second.

Null Zone: This spell is a good part of the reason Malzahar scales well. I rarely bother levelling this early - the damage is negligable in lane, it doesn't help you farm, and levelling it up only adds 1% damage. As people get more and more health alot of mages start to drop off, this is where it really shines. A well placed pool in a crowded teamfight can do an enormous amount of damage, especially when combined with a teammates AOE CC. It's also an important part of Malzahar's kill combo, covered later.

Malefic Visions: By far the simplest spell to use, this is normally what you level up first. The mana recovery and jumping of the visions from creep to creep allows you to easily farm waves while maintaining your mana pool, and it provides you with decent harass in lane. In teamfights this simply functions as a standard nuke which you can spam often without any concerns about landing a difficult skillshot, but bear in mind the DoT nature of the damage can make it less effective against characters that can put up shields (Galio, Sion come to mind). On the other hand, it's a satisfying spell to put on an ulting Tryndamere one second before he spins away.

Nether Grasp (Ultimate): A deceptively difficult move to use for a non-skillshot. Early game this is excellent for bursting down your lane opponent, ganking a lane or supporting a jungle gank on your lane. The problem comes later on, in teamfights. You are required to stand still for 2.5 seconds to get the full effect on your ult, which leaves you vulnerable to being interrupted or simply killed. Key targets may also buy a QSS, making your ult ineffective. It can still be used as a cleanup move, or to catch an enemy champion out of position before the teamfight starts, but once in a teamfight, the Malz player needs to time the usage of their ult very carefully. Don't feel compelled to use it if a good opportunity doesn't come up, it's not your most important spell to get right in a teamfight. Always keep an eye on enemy items, make sure you know who has a QSS, if anyone.

Most common priority of levelling: R>E>Q>W

Kill Combo
For those unfamiliar with it, Malzahar's kill combo normally opens with E, followed by casting W under your target and forcing them to stand in it by casting R. If you can land a Q, so much the better, but it's not easy and isn't a standard part of the combo. Early on, your pool is weak and won't add much damage even if you force someone to stand in it for ~3 seconds, but as champions health totals rise this quickly becomes a vital part. Each of these spells should be smartcasted to allow a much smoother roll through the combo.

Summoner spells
Flash: I always take this on Malzahar, and cannot imagine playing without it. Malzahar often pushes his lane, and doesn't have an escape spell nor a reliable form of CC to help him escape ganks. Flashing forward and hitting E-W-R can often net you a kill in lane against an unsuspecting opponent below 60%ish health (or higher if using ignite).

Ignite: A common spell for AP carries going mid. This makes your burst more threatening and can get you a kill or two in lane that you wouldn't have got otherwise.

Teleport: Most teams will want one. More often taken on a top laner so that they can help out with dragon fights.

Exhaust: A viable spell on virtually any kind of role, allowing you to get the better of an opponent 1 v 1, cripple a dangerous carry in a teamfight, or get out of trouble.

Ghost: Running a secondary escape spell is viable, since Malzahar has no natural method of escaping. Also helpful offensively to chase something down, but less useful than flash in lane for that purpose.

Cleanse: Another viable escape spell. Choose if the enemy team has alot of hard CC.

Surge: One of the new summoner spells that I can honestly say I've never used. Largely here because I don't want to dismiss it completely without trying it.

I wouldn't use any other summoner spells on Malzahar. Some have their uses (Clarity, heal), some would be completely out of place (Smite!), but none of them are as useful as the spells listed.

Runes and Masteries
Runes are pretty standard for a caster - magicpen reds, scaling mana regen yellows, magic resist blues and AP quints. Quints and blues are pretty flexible, I like being able to trade well in lane, but I've run CDR blues and just running both in AP is viable as well.

Masteries are 21-8-1, with the 1 point in utility picking up Summoner's Insight for better flash and teleport. I prefer improving my defences and lane sustain over the early masteries in the utility tree, but 21-0-9 is entirely viable as well. The 21 in offence is too good to pass up with the mastery trees as they are at the moment, as at level 18 you gain +22 AP, +5% AP and 10% more magipen, as well as Executioners bonus damage against targets below 40% health. Nothing else quite compares.

Early Game
Like most AP carries, you want to have a solo lane. Mid is ideal, since Malzahar's visions tend to push the lane, and mid is much shorter than top or bot, leaving you less open to jungle ganks, but if it benefits the team to do so, you can also go top. For games without an enemy jungler, Malzahar can 1 v 2 due to visions clearing creeps and making it difficult to zone you away from farming, but this probably needs a more defensive build early, with some health regen.

So, fast forward. You have mid lane, as you should in the majority of games. Hopefully you have a pretty good idea what to expect on the opposite side, though some team comps can leave this in doubt. Malzahar is very flexible about how he can be played in lane, and you should be forming a plan as soon as you know or have a good idea what you'll be facing in lane (and enemy jungle). Dorans Ring is a solid start on many APs, but against characters that will be trying to land skillshots (Brand and Cassiopeia come to mind immediately), starting boots and health pots is better. Boots and pots is still a viable start even against champions that you don't expect to be doing alot of dodging against, allowing you trade and heal up against opponents without any lane sustain.

Once you get into lane, you need to decide on your approach. Do you want to push the lane hard? Are you trying to kill, or just farm safely? This of course depends on the matchup. Although you scale decently well for a mage, there are some that outscale you, such as Veigar or Karthus - these guys have to be pushed around early while still weak. Against aggressive laners like Brand, Cass or Xerath you can afford to sit back more. Against champions that aren't good at clearing creeps quickly, simply pushing can be a very good strategy. Forcing them to last hit at their own tower denies them farm (even very good players can't do this perfectly, and weaker players often seem to miss the entire wave), and steadily chips away at the health of their tower. If you push the creep wave quickly enough, it'll die to the enemy tower before the next wave even appears, which means the opposing creep waves will meet in the middle of the lane and you won't be constantly pushed up, exposed to ganks. Of course, that isn't always possible, especially at lower levels when your spells are still weak. If trying to push hard, always put your visions on creeps weakened by auto attacks, and don't put them on a creep right next to the enemy canon creep at full health! Call of the Void onto a whole line of creeps can compliment your visions extremely well. Some enemy junglers may be terrifying enough to put you off pushing even if your lane opponent can't push back very well. For example, Warwick, though a weak jungler in the current meta, ganks mid lane very well with his ult, virtually guaranteeing a kill if you're pushed up without flash. Things like Shaco and the rarer Twitch have strong early ganks, while Nocturne is difficult to ward for and can jump on you from a long way away. There are many others. Ward for yourself if you plan to push, don't expect the jungler to cover it all for you, and be extra careful if flash is down. Common sense stuff for any character.

Your initial build will usually be either 2-3 Dorans Rings into a Deathcap, or RoA. Again, this depends on the gamestate, and I usually get the other item as my second major item anyway. Against strong laners you might need early Catalyst into RoA for better sustain and survivability. Even against a weak laner like Veigar going RoA can be a good idea so that his full combo with DFG doesn't kill you from full health.

Midgame
This is the point where mages are normally at their best. Laning phase is largely over, but teams aren't roaming in fives either, which allows you opportunities to gank. At this point you should have a deathcap and at least one other AP item, putting your AP at well over 300. You should also have a level advantage over some of the enemy team. Continue farming lanes when possible and look for victims to add to your bank balance.

Lategame
At this stage of the game teams tend to roam around as five, aside from possible split pushers. If competent, most of the enemy team (and hopefully yours) will have some health and magic resist in their builds, making it more difficult to simply burst someone down, or impossible if they've invested in a QSS, which negates much of the damage and CC of your ult. In teamfights, your goal is less about bursting one target down than it was before, more about hitting as many enemies as possible with your AOE. Hang back as you would when playing any squishy, bearing in mind that you don't have a reliable method of peeling bruisers and assassins off yourself. Save your ult combo for when you're in no danger of being interrupted, and don't feel you have to kill someone with it. If you can ult an enemy champion who is in your pool or other form of AOE without danger to yourself, it's usually best to do it, even if they aren't that squishy. You'd be surprised how much damage you can do once you break 600 AP.

Build should vary from game to game. A few thoughts:

Deathcap: Essential, usually as your first or second major item.
RoA: I buy one in almost every game, but not as core as a deathcap. Malzahar isn't desperately mana-hungry in lane, but you can still run short and the added survivability is very nice.
Rylais: Buy if you need more general survivability. The slow will only ever be 15%, because your spells are all AOE and damage over time. There are better mages for this item, but it's still viable.
Void staff: This should usually feature somewhere in your build. Buy when several enemies have more than 100 MR.
Abyssal Sceptre: Buy if you want more magic resist without slowing yourself down with something like a banshees veil. Doesn't synergise especially well with void staff, since flat MR reduction reduces how much you get out of percentage based MR reduction. Stronger in a team comp that does alot of AP damage.
Zhonyas Hourglass: The only way of increasing armor while keeping the offensive momentum going. If you're struggling with bruisers rushing you in teamfights, this will keep you alive for longer.
Archangels Staff: Not an item I'd recommend on Malzahar, who doesn't need to put that much gold into extra mana. Just an RoA provides plenty for the entire game.
Morellos Evil Tome: Often a good idea, as the CDR allows you better sustained damage in teamfights. If you're only managing one round of spells in most teamfights then you need to either rethink your positioning or buy survivability instead.
Deathfire Grasp: Similar to Morellos, except it offers less of everything in return for the extra nuke. Could be a viable alternative if you can get close enough to use the active eithout dying.
Lich Bane: An unusual choice, though I've tried it in a few games. The modest amount of MR is very welcome, the movespeed is very nice, but the proc is really what makes or breaks it. See how teamfights are going and decide whether you can realistically get close enough to auto attack anything. Buy late, if at all.
Will of the Ancients: Not something I get very often, because as a squishy I tend to be more afraid of being killed quickly rather than dying to sustained damage. However, if your team is running two AP carries, then both of you buying a WoTA (for a whopping 50% spellvamp each) can be extremely powerful.

Other items can work (especially Banshees against some champions), but think hard before buying an item that doesn't add any AP to your build.

Weaknesses

Although they weren't gapingly obvious to me when I first started playing Malzahar, I see him as having two main weaknesses. Firstly, he can't easily peel things off himself. Most mages have something they can cast against things that just rush at them in teamfights. Ryze, Morgana, Swain and Lux have snares, Annie, Xerath and Brand have conditional stuns, Veigar has an AOE stun, Karthus has a massive slow. Malzahar's silence is a tricky skillshot that won't stop anything moving towards you, which leaves only his ult. However, that can only be used once, and comes with all the usual problems of standing still in a teamfight for 2.5 seconds, etc etc. That brings us to his second weakness, the fact that his ultimate is countered by QSS. Although an underrated item, once you get to a certain level of play you'll notice more and more opponents buying one against you if they see themselves as a prime target. This doesn't make you useless in fights, but it's something you have to keep an eye on. Check the enemy team's items regularly and only ult someone with a QSS if you know they've used it.

Closing thoughts
That concludes my Malzahar guide. I consider Malzahar to be a slightly underrated character, with one possible reason being that people attach too much importance to his ult, which is actually not so great in the teamfighting stage of the game. I see Malz as a solid AP carry (the other ones that I play regularly are Brand and Veigar), and hope that my guide encourages more people to give him a try. Any questions or comments on this are welcome.


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Wanton Davis

Member

01-16-2012

Honestly, I did not read it. It may be a good guide, but there are just too many large blocks of text to make people really want to read it. It might be better on Mobafire, or somewhere where you can pretty it up and space it out better, but in this form it's just too much straight text. I like the way you categorized things though.


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Amoc

Senior Member

01-16-2012

That's a pretty good guide all in all. I would suggest putting it on solomid or mobafire and see if you can get more comments etc. You took a lot of time to write it obviously but on the forum it's going to quickly be buried I think.

I'm a Malzahar player myself and I agree with the majority of what you've said. The only difference is that I don't really bother with Doran's, especially not 2-3 of them, for several reasons. First is that I don't think he's very mana hungry because you'll be farming almost exclusively with E, which sustains your mana. E has the added benefit of being a very passive farming tool, which helps keep you alive and reduces the need for + health.

With the money you save you can get your boots (which are necessary because Malz is so slow) 3 pots to keep yourself laning longer, and then move into either Rabadon's or RoA (via blasting rod) with some flexibility.

I liked the part of your guide which explained how overrated Malz's ult, primarily late game. It IS a great ult, don't get me wrong, but it's not really the primary danger of Malzahar in the team fight stage. At this point the biggest threat in Mal's arsenal is Null Zone, which can just ruin a tank/bruiser's day. Even if you only get a tick or two off before the enemy team runs out, that's 20-30% of their HP. That's pretty darn good even if it only hits ONE opponent, but hitting several is just BAM!

In regards to your conclusion, however, I think Malz is fairly represented as an outclassed AP carry. He CAN be good with some protection, but most of his damage is avoidable. He's a priority target for CC/death when ulting, his primary damage dealer is avoidable (nullzone) and his cooldowns are kind of long. He's slow, lacks escapes and CC (other than R), and has the esteened distinction of being probably the worst AP kiter in the game due to slow move speed, none of his abilities really benefiting from Rylais and aweful and low ranged auto-attack.

I think he needs a little buffing, either with CDR, range or some form of reliable CC, to be as effective as someone like Xerath or Kennen etc.


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RotomAppliance

Junior Member

01-16-2012

Yeah I might look at putting it on one of those sites, at the time it was more stream of consciousness and I wanted to get it down rather than editting too much.

On his movespeed, it's 315 which is actually no slower than any other AP carry. In fact I can't think of any OTOH that move faster, although alot are also tied with him. I can't remember the range on his autos but I don't think I'd be using them to kite, even in the laning phase.

As for Null Zone, how effective it is really depends on the location of the fight, whether it's in an enclosed area, or on a ramp, etc. Also on whether your team has much CC for forcing people to stand in it for a while. I could have talked about that some more in the guide, but it already has alot of words =)

Thanks for you comments, appreciated.


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Phil Nye

Senior Member

05-03-2012

Slow movespeed is a myth that really needs to be dispelled. His base movespeed is 315, which is actually very average for casters (look theme up on LoL wiki to see for yourself). Funnily enough, compare this to Ahri, who people say is "agile" (only via ult), whose base movespeed is 310.

Personally though, I love my movespeed quints, especially if I start with boots + 3 pots, when the added speed really does show.

Edit: Didn't read the last comment all the wayes lol, already been said.

You should add the new stats for the other ap items with the new patch for your guide, morello's for example would be great against swain/vlad or a sustain heavy team in general.


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Amoc

Senior Member

05-03-2012

Necro


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eddymagnota

Junior Member

12-13-2012

well played very great i used it level 10 vs a level fifteen and i slaughtered finally im the worst player ever


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