Today I’m going to try to give you my perspective on how to build Malzahar in order to carry games in (late 2021). Keep in mind I’m a single trick pony that has ranked world #94 with Malzahar which puts me up there in terms of skill level and understanding how the champion works. This may not be suitable for you and may not match your playstyle as each person likes to play differently.
My build is definitely late game focused as I believe this is the weakest point of the champion. Unfortunately since we will be focusing on building the champion for late game a sacrifice will have to be made. The least impactful sacrifice you will be making here is as you already figured out his early game, particularly up to level 6 which in my opinion the champion unless he receives a good gank does not have a good potential to do a kill an enemy. He may be good at harassing them but since the meta has shifted over the past few years more on the mid-late game it’s safe to say that it’s a good strategy. This however does mean you need to be more careful in the early levels of the game if you are following this strategy. I’m going to discuss this and break it down more further in the early game section.
A bit about my background on the game, I have been playing League of Legends Summoners rift since season 7.
During that time I have played all roles of the game with particular focus mid, top and adc.
I have been able to easily reach high gold elo since the beginning of playing the game and have
peaked to Platinum in several seasons. I have played in NA, EUW and EUNE servers but mainly EUW.
How to build Malzahar Early Game
What Starting Items Malzahar
Starting with a sapphire with refillable is one of your best options for two reasons:
- Sapphire crystal adds to your cost to get a quick Lost Chapter
- Refillable pot because it gives you sustain but if you get in trouble in lane you can just pay a small difference in gold and upgrade it to corrupting pot.
- Futures market: This is vital as you will be going early back to get your lost chapter
- Teleport: In order to avoid losing any experience or minions you need to get teleport (more to that later)
What Summoner spells Malzahar
I think by far the best option here is Teleport in some matchups which I will discuss later you can take ignite but this may not be ideal for you especially if you are facing a difficult champion. If you would like to learn more about this you can read my Malzahar counters article here.
How to Mid Game as Malzahar
Since season 11 the first item you should be buying is definitely Liandry’s. It used to be Luden’s echo but that no longer is as good. The best thing about Liandry’s burn synergizes very well with Malzahars e ability. Since you can literally sit back and spam your e the burn duration of it extends the damage it does and amplifies your ability in a great way. Furthermore in late game it just keeps getting better as your E scales up with your other items.
As a second item you have two options depending on your matchup and how much the enemy team is targeting you. If you feel the enemy team has a great kill potential or if they are camping you and you need some time to reset your abilities then you should be going Zhonya’s hourglass. The main advantage of this is also that it gives you some armor and tankyness which is great against AD champions.
If you feel confident and want to go a little more aggressive/damage based your next option should be Demonic embrace. This new item again synergizes very well with Malzahar’s kit (e ability) and gives you some tankyness at the same time. The survivability prevents or reduces the chances of being one shot by assasin junglers like Kha’Zix. Having said that you should be aiming to build both of those items it’s just that the order that’s important sometimes.
How to Late Game as Malzahar
What late game Items Malzahar
As mentioned above you should be swapping the order between Demonic Embrace and Zhonyas Hourglass as either your second or third item. As a note I’m skipping boots because these are entirely situational, I like to at least have tier-1 boots before I start building my second item and depending on the team composition and how much I need to roam I often finish the boots before I start building my second item. Regardless you should not delay your boots much longer past your second item build. At that point you will simply be too slow to join team fights and roam around the map to help with objectives which your team will very much need your presence.
Once you have what I call the three core items of Malzahar then you need to start thinking what you have to face against you. If there’s for example a team with a lot of healing like soraka, yummi, nami or even life steal champions like aatrox, vladimir etc you will most likely want to build as your next item morellonomicon. This will offer you some anti-healing capabilities which your kit is lacking and will allow you to kill easier the high killing champions. While this isn’t a golden bullet it will greatly help overall making progress in the game.
Another great situation item you may want to consider in this phase of the game is void staff. If your enemy is tanky and they are building a lot of magic resist which is very common these days due to the buff of a lot of AP assassins in the game ie Diana, Katarina, Sylas you will need this item. This will allow you to neutralize some of the resistances of the enemies and increase your actual damage potential output.
Closing you should consider getting a deathcap if you want. The game has shifted a lot into a late game meta and yes deathcap is the ultimate damage item in the game for AP champions. It amplifies all your AP abilities by a good percent and lets you win those prolonged team fights. As Malzahar you are a champion that does damage over time so this will have a multiplying factor in the long run for you.
What Masteries Malzahar
The two masteries I always recommend getting that are optimized for late game as Malzahar is Gathering storm and absoloute focus. These two together basically give you an extra AP item in late game. Since our build is optimized for late game for reasons explained in the introduction I see this as an unavoidable selection.
How to adapt in league of legends game
Being adaptable is very important on league of legends and it affects how you go up the ranks. In fact the most adaptable players will climb much faster than those that remain static. This applies across the board but we will talk about how this affects Malzahar’s build in particular. The build we described above had a few variations after the second/third item. The way the late game will unfold for you has a lot to do how you adapt and change your build to be able to counter what your enemies are doing.
Since nowadays the teams are a mix of the things below, you need to focus on building according to who is more fed. If you are uncertain or no one is fed then you can probably stick to the generic item build I mentioned above and focus more on the damage output with items such as deathcap.
How to win versus tanky team in league of legends
If you are facing a heavy tank team then things will definitely need adjustments based on what we discussed above. The first and outmost thing to understand is that tanks will start itemizing against you if you are carrying and generally doing good. They will know this based on various reasons:
- How much farm you have, if you are way ahead of everyone else this is an indicator you are doing well
- If you have a high kill participation, the keyword here is participation it doesn’t matter if you are 10-0-0 or 1-0-9 the kill participation is high in both instances and that’s all that matters.
- If you are taking objectives or helping secure them
With the new items in the game such as Anathema’s chain a tank can really set you back if you get targeted. So there’s a few things you can do to counter their targeting. I’m going to try to list them in the priority I think is important below.
- Build Zhonya’s hourglass. Why you would ask? The reason is simple usually tanks have CC in their kit which means they can lock you down before you have the chance to do any damage. This means you need to be able to stop that before it gets out of hand and Zhonya is a good way to mitigate it and let your team do something to help you. I say your team because usually as Malzahar you are fairly immobile and besides walking backwards or flashing there isn’t left much you can do to re-position and start doing damage.
- Get void staff. The reason here is obvious it gives you 40% magic penetration which negates magic resistance items. But besides that it also gives you an additional 70 AP which helps you overall with the damage output.
- Get Sorcerer’s shoes. It gives you a flat magic penetration of 18 which adds up to the damage you do. Now this isn’t as significant as void staff but it certainly adds up to the overall magic penetration.
- As mentioned above get Liandry’s Anguish it’s also known as a tank killer as it does 4% of the targets maximum health in damage. This is huge considering the item has other incredible stats along with it.
- Banshee veil, this gives you an extra cc protection along with your passive this makes them two.
How to win Versus Assassins in league of legends
Similar to a heavy tank composition you probably want to itemize well against a heavy assassin composition or a team that has assasins fed. Let me start by saying that if a good assasin is fed it will be very hard for you to stop them from killing your adc. Your adc has to build items to protect themselves such as QSS or guardian angel depending on what assasin is agains them.
Now that we go this over because after all Malzahar is a mix of an AP mage but also as a team support sometimes that keeps assasins in place. Chances are that if you are facing a good assasin they will likely build a QSS against you especially if they are an AD champion (I’ve seen it on AP assasins too). So think of master yi, yasuo, talon etc. Does this mean you are useless? No, the answer is a little more complicated than this let me break down what your build should look like to amplify the output of your damage. This may sound counter productive but your build should be entirely based on damage and not protection. The only exception to this is if you are against lower elo players that do not build QSS.
The item build needs to contain the following items to help you out:
- Deathcap, as mentioned above you want to be able to do the max damage output here in case your ultimate is countered, the damage you do still goes out on the enemy.
- Zhonyas, if he engages on you, you can actually stop his burst cold by using your Zhonya. This is a simple and effective counter and works well against assasins.
- Banshee veil, if you are against a heavy AP assasin composition this may also be helpful. It’s passive is also good because it blocks or negates the first cc/attack you may receive along with your passive (if it’s up) this is two counter cc protections you have.
If you want to know how to carry as Malzahar is very dependent on how well you do versus assassins’, these can be very annoying and shut you down during the game so make sure you play carefully with the tips given above.
I personally don’t find myself struggling so much if I’m against a heavy tank or assasin team. The times I have the most difficulty against is if the enemy team has ranged champions which do damage or a fed adc. In that case there’s very little you can do in terms of builds you have to make sure you position properly and try to do as much damage output as you can until the team fight is over or die. We discussed how to carry as Malzahar but always keep in mind you need to do well overall in your macro and micro skill to pull this successfully, game knowledge super-seeds any champion skillset.
If you found this article useful and you think it may have helped you please drop me a cheer below I would appreciate it.
If you have any questions, comments below I check periodically and try to answer them in the priority they come in.
Also if you have any corrections please do let me know and I’ll update the article with new updates or mistakes I did.
If you would like to learn more about league of legends please take a look at my section here for more articles.
I also wrote an article on difficult Malzahar counters if you would to read it you can find it here.
What is your favorite item to build on Malzahar?