League of Legends: Zed Makes His Mark on the Mid Lane

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

Zed climbed to the top of the mid lane tier list after a Patch 10.14 buff

Assassins have dominated the mid lane champion pool throughout Season 10 so far and it was only a matter of time before Zed made an appearance. The Master of Shadows has always been a niche pick throughout the history of League of Legends – particularly in pro play and higher elos – but there is no doubt about his ability in the right hands and in the right team composition.

Zed has made 1 appearance in competitive play in 2020 when former Team Liquid and Golden Guardians mid laner Son “Mickey” Young-min picked the champion against DAMWON Gaming on Patch 10.11. Outside of that, Zed has had very little impact on the Season 10 meta and is relatively weak compared to other assassins in the mid lane.

That was until Patch 10.14 when the balance team decided it was time to revive Zed and reintroduce him to the meta with an incredibly valuable W buff. In last week’s patch, Living Shadow’s missile speed was increased from 1750 to 2500 and its cooldown was reduced from 22/20/18/16/14 seconds to 20/18.5/17/15.5/14 seconds.

This Patch 10.14 buff has resulted in Zed’s rapid ascent up the mid lane tier list

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As a result of this change, Zed’s win rate has shot up from 49.22% on Patch 10.13 to 51.59% on Patch 10.14, a huge increase. Not only that, but the mid laner’s popularity has also increased as more players add him to their pool to take advantage of his current strength. On Patch 10.13, only 4.21% of games involved Zed. This number has increased to 6.26% on the current patch, adding more variety to the mid lane meta.

The success of this buff is due to two factors. The first is the increased Living Shadow missile speed which allows Zed to close the gap between himself and his lane opponent over 40% quicker than before. This gives enemy mid laners less time to react to an engage from Zed and allows him to weave in more auto attacks as he spends less time waiting for his shadow animation to finish.

The second factor is the reduced cooldown. It’s important to note that Zed players put points into Living Shadow last, so this buff only really concerns the rank 1 cooldown reduction, which is 2 seconds. While 2 seconds may not seem like a lot of difference to a 20 second+ cooldown, this buff is huge for scenarios in which Zed has the upper hand in the mid lane matchup and has the opportunity to look for roams.

Combining both of these factors leads to a much larger buff than many players first thought and has resulted in a huge improvement in Zed’s overall power on Patch 10.14. In fact, Zed currently has the 10th highest win rate among mid laners and has firmly cemented himself in S tier.

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Adding an AD assassin to the current AP-dominated mid lane meta improves the diversity of the mid lane champion pool significantly and creates a more entertaining game. As time goes on, players will adjust to Zed’s improvements and find counters which will slightly reduce his win rate, but the Master of Shadows is undoubtedly here to stay.