In a set of patches a long time ago, Zed’s base cooldown on E was nerfed from 3 to 4 seconds. Back then, there was no question surrounding it. Every Zed player maxed E because it was really easy to get two of them in before Death Mark Triggered. Now, there’s an endless debate going on regarding W vs E. In this article, we’re going to examine the advantages/disadvantages of maxing one over the other and how it’ll affect your strategy as a shady Ninja of death that sometimes sneaks around and splitpushes towers.

The Zed Way:

By now, you’ve had your fair share of ninja assassins and you either can’t wait until the next time you solo queue with akali and stack your mejais or dread facing against this guy who just throws Shurikens in your face until you’re dead. Either that or you haven’t seen a ninja your whole life and always end up wondering how Zed can kill you very fast. In order to understand how he works, here’s a recap of his skills:

(1)    Q: Throws a shuriken that does physical damage. Does less damage on secondary targets.

(2)    W: Throws a shadow that mimics Zed’s abilities. Lasts 4 seconds. Restores energy if both Zed and the Shadow hit any target with any skill. Costs less, faster CD and restores more energy per level

(3)    E: Zed spins around and does aoe damage, his shadows also slow the opponent for a certain percentage. Slow percentage and damage increase per level, slow is increased even more if both Zed and the Shadow hit the SAME target. Reduces W’s cooldown by 2 seconds eveytime it hits an enemy champion.

Maximing Zed’s roles:

Zed is primarily an assassin, but he’s also a decent splitpusher. He can be placed mid or top and still fit any team comp with ease. There are also two builds with polarizing effects on your overall strategy, which will drastically affect if you’ll max W or E second.

Why Max W:

One of the first major items Zed players usually buy is the Brutalizer. It’s the best go-to item after a standard sword + 3 potion start since all the stats help him greatly. Coupled with Ionian boots of Lucidity, it doesn’t take more to reduce E’s cd to less than 3 seconds to be able to proc it twice during a death mark ult. However, Zed’s ult has a hefty cooldown at the early levels and only adds a little bit of damage, and an overreliance on landing a W-E-Q combo runs the risk of leaving Zed with very little energy. This is primarily the reason why most Zeds today go for the Botrk + Youmuu’s combo. Even though Q and E scale with AD, and W provides bonus % for AD, early-mid game builds center on making him move faster, while slowing down the opponent even further. For the majority of the game, Zeds generally don’t build AD until the later phase of the game.

The benefit of maxing W first is that it provides Zed with utility, complimenting his whole kit entirely. Every point in W means that the shadow costs 5 energy less, while restoring 5 more energy for mimic hits. At level 3, a W-E-Q combo costs a whopping 165 energy, and only restores 10. At max level, that’s 40 energy difference per skill, or a grand total of 80 when you’re lucky enough to hit with both skills whether against minions or during teamfights. At 40% cdr, the a lvl 1 shadow has a cd of 10.8 vs a lvl 5 version which has 8.4. What that means is that you only have to hit 4 champions before you can use W again instead of the standard 5. With that said, you also have to keep the following in mind:

(1)    Regardless of the fact that you’re hitting your skills, your cooldown’s ticking by itself

(2)    With 40% cd, Your shadow can end up throwing 2 shurikens in 4 seconds, which is it’s duration

(3)    Recasting Deathmark is Zed’s usual way of going back safely after he has landed all his skills but having your W up earlier also provides you with a ton of mobility

After expelling all your energy for an all-in, one of the biggest benefits having a maxed W will give you is that it’ll only cost you 20 energy to jump out of danger OR look for your next target. If you’re going to do this, make sure to W-Q first, and use the energy you gained back to cast E, and then warp to your shadow only afterwards. If you tried W-E first, you won’t be recovering any energy at all unless you were already right beside your target in the first place. Keep in mind that once you’ve maxed Q and W, you only need 85 energy to do this whole combo. With only one level in W, however, the energy requirement goes up to 135. That’s 5 seconds worth of energy that you don’t always have the luxury to wait for, especially in the middle of a teamfight.

In terms of split-pushing, the mentality is the same except having more leftover energy means you can W-E-Q waves to your heart’s content, land another double shuriken against the same wave, and still have enough energy when things suddenly get messy. with LoL
INTRODUCTION: In a set of patches a long time ago, Zed’s base cooldown on E was nerfed from 3 to 4 seconds. Back then, there was no question surrounding it. Every Zed player maxed E because it was really easy to get two of them in before Death Mark Triggered....