"Entering the forest he moves not the grass;
Entering the water he makes not a ripple."
- Tank Caster Hybrid
- Masteries 9 0 21
- Runes: magic pen reds, health yellows, up to 6% cdr blues, and flat health quints, replace anything with mana regen if you need it
- Summoner Spells: Ghost, Flash, Teleport (pick two)
- Skills: R > E > W > Q Early point in W and Q
- Core Build: Archangel's Staff, Sorcerer's Shoes, Force of Nature, Glacial Shroud
- Optional Items: Frozen Heart, Abyssal Scepter, Zhonya's Ring
- Strategy: Enable your team by softening up targets with dots/aoe and use your ult on their carry. Don't die.
Malzahar is misunderstood. He has seen the depths of the void, and has transcended his own individuality to become something more. He's generally considered pretty weak, however, he would beg to differ. Let me translate his sacred writings, so that you too might attain enlightenment.
"When the mind is at peace,
the world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
not getting stuck in the void,
you are neither holy or wise, just
an ordinary fellow who has completed his work."
The first thing to realize about Malzahar is that he is not a burst caster. Oh people have tried to shoehorn him into that role, but he is really outshined by other better nukers. He does not make entire teams explode like Annie, neither does he three shot people like Kassadin. He is a subtle caster, and cares nothing for glory.
So what is he good for? Two functions: enabling your team, and pushing. Malzahar should be compared more with a support mage like Morgana than any burst caster. You support your team by clearing minions, whittling away their team, and saving your ult for when your carry decides to destroy the enemy. You are a workhorse, and you must clear your mind of all thoughts of pentakill ambitions.
Malzahar requires patience. His skill set contains 3 dots and a skill shot with a delay. The very definition of "dot" is damage over time, and waiting the necessary time requires patience. Anything that lengthens combat so that your team can maintain a push is a desirable item. Malzahar enables pushes. Like Heimer, he makes it so that your team can sit on a tower and whittle it away.
Glass cannon Malzahar builds are useless. Perhaps on certain team comps where everyone uses their cc just to save you, you might want to stack AP, but in most comps, there are better people to save. Your primary late game abilities do not require AP to be effective (ult, hp% aoe, and silence), and regardless they are ineffective if you are staring at the grey screen of death anyway. You are also useless if you can't spam your abilities because either you are oom or they are on cd.
"Truth has no counterpart,
It is motionless like the Void,"
Your other function is to defend towers. You have an aoe that perfectly fits a wave of minions, a dot that transfers whenever the towers kills someone, and an ult to keep people in tower range. Since you are tanky, you will also be able to hold off an attack until help arrives, unlike any squishy Malzahar build that crumples to any tower-diving Garen.
R > E > W > Q Early point in W and Q, though you can get away without any Q until late game, since its only real use early game is to check the bushes. Protip: don't walk into bushes.
Starting Items: Meki Pendant and 2 hps. (Buy Tear and boots 1 at least after first trip back for 955g.)
Sorcerer's Boots: You need magic pen. This is the best place to get it for this build. What about merc treads? If the enemy wants to stun you they will, and what will save you is your tank items, not the -35% duration. Use the extra time to meditate about your positioning failure.
Archangel's Staff: You need a huge mana pool and mana regen to fulfill your basic function, and this item fits the bill perfectly. Tear should be your first purchase, but you can hold off buying the full item if you need survivability.
Force of Nature: Huh? That's a tank item! Absolutely, but think about what it gives you--hp regen, movement speed, and magic res, everything you need to outlast a team in a sustained push. Wouldn't banshee's be better? No way. Banshee's doesn't heal, and you need to be zipping around the map at a faster speed. Pick up 1-2 regen pendants asap so you can sit in a lane indefinitely.
Glacial Shroud: I list this item separately from Frozen Heart because against a caster heavy team this is all the armor you might need. You gain more mana which stacks with your staff, armor, and most importantly a huge amount of CDR, which lets you go oom faster.
Frozen Heart: vs any team with a phys dps carry that loves eating you. Master Yi, Warwick, Trist, etc. With it you'll have ~180 armor, so they'll have to work to kill you, instead of destroying you in four hits.
Abyssal Scepter: vs any team with a mage that loves opening on you. Annie, Anivia, etc. With this you'll have around ~180 mr, so you won't explode when a giant bear lands on your face.
Situational: Zhonya's, Banshees, Thornmail. Generally games end somewhere around the end of Frozen Heart or Abyssal Scepter, so the sixth slot you can use for wards, or if the game really goes into overtime, then pick up whatever you feel you need (which 90% of the time for me, it's Zhonya's.)
With your core build, you have ~130 armor and mr, a decent amount of AP, a huge mana pool, CDR of 35%, and enough regen to stay in a lane indefinitely. Late game, after you get Frozen Heart/Abyssal Scepter, your defenses bump up to about 180, and you have two important enemy debuff auras.
Do's and Don'ts:
Don't die. This one should be obvious, but it isn't. A lot of people think it's super to tower dive a low hp enemy that is retreating, even though you could stay put and kill the tower. The low hp dude has to run all the way back to their base to heal, while you get to take free shots at their building. If you kill the enemy but die as well, then the tower remains standing. Remember towers > kills.
Do put dots on minions to help clear pushes. Most likely when the back row minions die, they'll transfer the dot to an enemy.
Do not run around oom. You are useless with no mana. Conserve your mana when farming, so that when you need to zoom off and help a teamfight, you are ready and useful.
Do not ult the tank. Always ult a squishy, preferably after having dot/aoe/silenced them first.
Do not initiate. You are not a tank, even though you are tanky. It's not your job to run in and ult someone first. You will be cced then die, regardless of your items.
Do defend towers. You need to watch the minimap at all times, and when mid is in trouble gtf over there and stop their push.
Do Call of the Void into the bushes before you walk into them. Garen is probably in them.
Do not respond when people hate on your build. You will see some variation of "OMFG Y U BUILD TANK ITEMZ ON MALZ, U SUK." No one bugs Morgana when she builds a Frozen Heart, but apparently on Mal it is heresy. Of course, you are the chosen prophet of the void, and as such, you must put up with a little madness. /ignore is your friend.
"Empty-handed, I hold a hoe.
Walking on foot, I ride a buffalo.
Passing over a bridge, I see
The bridge flow, but not the water."
Link to Other Guides by me:
Sun Tzu Teemo: How to Control a Map