Author: MMOsite Writer DJWest
For part 1: Ahri build
Continuing in the vein of Worlds 2013 while it is still fairly fresh in everyone's minds, we come to another heavy carry and a typical mid lane champion. While he is relatively new to the League compared to some of the other staples, Zed's showing was no less impressive; his burst damage and assassin capabilities are matched by few, if indeed any other champions in the League. To maximize his potential let's take a look at what some of the pros built. Pros like TSM's Reginald, MSK's Yume, and LD's Nukeduck gave us a great showing of how to build Zed to his maximum potential.
Starting Items - Doran's Shield + Health Pot/Elixir of Fortitude + 3 Pots
The different starts give you a different set of skills to deal with your early game - if you're up against a range champion who you want to be able to trade with on equal ground, or if you feel that they are going to be dealing too much damage to deal with using only a few potions, you can trade in your early game advantage for a Doran's shield and a single potion, giving you a bit more permanent health and regeneration to enable a longer stay in lane each time you go.
In one of the more entertaining matches of the Group Stage, FNC's xPeke proved that Zed's early damage with a Doran's Shield is nothing to be scoffed at as he secured first blood in this 3v3 teamfight cluster.
If, however, you're confident in your ability to trade with (or even all-in) your opponent, an Elixir of Fortitude sets Zed up for powerful early gameplay. The bonus damage combined with bonus health gives you an edge over most early game casters, especially those with lower base health pools. If you can get the first blood - or if the extra health saves you from an early gank - this build can easily set you up for a powerful snowball, but the lack of permanent items makes this start a risk for anyone not confident in their ability to make the Elixir pay for itself.
Don't underestimate the power of your ultimate in the early game either; even at level 6, it can finish off a foe that you've dealt significant damage to. LD's Nukeduck disengaged at exactly the right moment to avoid dying, thanks partially to the heals of Sona. SKT's Faker died the second that Zed's ultimate duration ended.
Items: Bilgewater Cuirass, Brutalizer, and Mercury's Treads/Ninja Tabi. Optional: Hexdrinker
At Worlds virtually every pro built the two main items here; Bilgewater Cuirass gives amazing sustain and allows you to go toe to toe with champions that have good harass and sustain like Ahri without being constantly forced to either miss your CS or return to base. Brutalizer is all damage, and since most enemy champions at mid will have minimal armor (unless they rush an early Hourglass), its Armor Penetration power can make your attacks deal an extremely high percentage of their total damage.
The early damage provided by a Cuirass shouldn't be scoffed at either; after picking up only a single kill earlier in the game, Reginald's burst was enough to damage Nukeduck in a game so quickly that by the time Shen appeared, his shield had already been destroyed and Nukeduck was on his last legs.
If you have a slow start or if you let your mid get ahead of you, a Hexdrinker and Mercury Treads are very powerful, especially if the enemy mid starts to roam and snowball. The Magic Damage and shield that these items provide can give you the survivability you need to dive the enemy's mage and kill him off before he can get to the rest of your team, and the Tenacity means you might just be able to make it out before the rest of the team finishes you off. If, on the other hand, the enemy's AD Carry have a fantastic early game or if you find yourself up against the AD mids that are becoming more common, Ninja Tabi give you extra survivability - just remember that this leaves you extremely vulnerable to enemy tanks and deadly supports like Zyra, Annie, and Leona.
Despite the fact that Gambit had built up a gold lead of nearly fifteen thousand, MSK's Yume used Zed's incredible damage to catch AlexIch's Ori with her ult down after a fight and shred through her armor and shield before she could finish off his lowered health.
Items: Black Cleaver, Blade of the Ruined King, and Last Whisper
Zed's role is solely damage, and his items surely reflect that. Zed builds very little defense unless the game goes extremely late, and these damage items provide him with the most bang for his buck in the early game.
Black Cleaver and Last Whisper provide you with enough Armor Penetration and reduction to utterly annihilate anyone that hasn't built armor, and still deal massive damage to anyone who does. Blade of the Ruined King's passive ability provides you with the power to autoattack Tanks into oblivion once a fight has been cleared of carries, and all three provide you with more raw AD than most teams are capable of handling. Unless the enemy team has massive amounts of CC or excellent coordination, if you have gotten any kills at all in the game you will be able to shred enemy carries by the time you finish this build - and BotRK's active ability gives you the sustain and speed needed to get away most of the time while your team sweeps the field.
Even at 1/2/8, TSM's Reginald was able to dive well beyond the enemy team to reach their fleeing Ezrael as he crossed into the Nexus Turrets and take him from full health to nothing, eliminating a huge portion of GG's damage in the first Group Stage match at Worlds.
Items: Guardian Angel, Mercurial Scimitar, Zephyr, Bloodthirster, Maw of Malmortius
While most of the games in the Worlds series did not reach the true late game, this is where Zed can either choose to delve farther into pure offense or build a bit more defensively to prevent himself from being killed early in the teamfights. Items like Maw of Malmortius and Bloodthirster provide you with a minimal amount of survivability and hefty offensive power, while Mercurial Scimitar and Zephyr give you a chance to survive massive amounts of CC or teams with powerful ultimates. As with all champions and especially carries, Guardian Angel gives you a second chance, but it is often especially effective on Zed - since you dive harder than almost any other assassin, if you manage to kill one or even both of the enemy carries, Guardian Angel gives your team time to clean up and clear your death area during the brief delay, letting you escape or help them finish off the remnants of the enemy team.
Remember that Zed's sole purpose is to deal as much damage as possible in as short of a time as you can. Picking too much defense makes you ineffective at your job, and even if you can survive and escape, a Zed who burns all of his abilities without getting a kill isn't likely to get a second shot at it. Zed is a champion who benefits from a player with high skill and a lot of practice, and the way you build him late-game may change a lot as you gain experience facing various team compositions. Always be prepared to adapt, whether that means changing your items or simply changing the method and timing of your entrance into a teamfight.