Playing Zac in League of Legends Patch 7.11
The League of Legends 7.11 Patch Notes have just dropped and it's very clear that Zac got a little too much help from the Riot Games' balance department in patch 7.10 -- and no significant nerfs in 7.11.
His win rate jumped almost 10% after patch 7.10, landing him in the second highest win rate for jungle and the third highest win rate overall. The green guy has been an absolute monster for solo queue, and I'm here to break down why he became so strong, and how you should be playing him.
How Did Zac become So Strong?
The image above shows Zac's changes from Patch 7.10 and Patch 7.11 compiled into one list. Going through the changes one by one, let's start with his Q buff.
Zac now has health scaling on his Q at the cost of a minor base damage nerf. A base damage nerf like this would usually mean a less healthy jungle clear, but Zac actually ends his jungle clear at 75% health -- even after the nerf. The 2.5% max health scaling that he gained from this is pretty huge, as Zac's standard builds almost always get him to around 4000 health. This means a free additional 100 damage on his Q, as well as the increased basic attack range and slam radius. He also drops an extra blob when using the ability to clear jungle camps, giving him even more sustain when clearing the jungle.
Zac's E now has a longer knockup duration based on how long you charge the ability, going from 0.5 seconds uncharged to 1 second when fully charged. This is essentially a straight buff because in most cases, you would want to fully charge E before you use it. So Zac's E knockup duration was basically doubled for free.
The compensation nerf is that enemies see where his E is going to land 0.25 seconds earlier now, which gives them slightly more time to react. The doubled knockup duration heavily outweighs this nerf, so his E remains an incredibly strong ability
Zac's Ult was the only ability that actually received a straight nerf, which was 0.1 more seconds on the time it takes to fully charge and pick up enemies. One-tenth of a second. That's it.
So overall, Zac now does more damage, has an even healthier clear, clears the jungle even faster later into the game, and CCs enemies for even longer. In exchange, there's a slightly earlier warning to enemies when he uses his E, and 0.1 extra seconds of charge time on his Ult.
So How Do You Play This Guy?
His first clear is usually Blue > Gromp > Wolves > Raptors > Red.
Alternatively, if you can get your midlaner to throw a spell onto the Raptor camp, start at Raptors and go Red > Wolves > Blue
Your skill order should be to level W, then Q, then E, and from that point, max E first, W second, and Q last, putting a point in your Ult at levels 6, 11, and 16. E will be first for the extra range and better ganks, and W second for the increased clear speed. Q is a fantastic one-point wonder, so it will do its job at Rank 1 for a while.
After your first clear, you should look to gank Mid or Top -- or take one of the two scuttle crabs. Your goal with Zac from early to mid game is to constantly look for gank opportunities. Zac is a fantastic ganker with three forms of CC, so you need to make use of this. Make note of which of your lanes are easy to gank based on the matchup.
For example, an allied Katarina against an enemy Leblanc will be a very difficult lane to gank, as Katarina has no way to lock Leblanc down, and Leblanc has multiple escape abilities. On the other hand, an allied Kennen against an enemy Ryze would be a fantastic lane to gank, as Kennen's lockdown and damage will compliment your long-range CC very well, and Ryze's only escape ability, his ultimate, can be interrupted.
In Teamfights, you want to either peel for your damage dealers or look for opportunities to scoop up the squishy enemy damage dealers and deliver them to your team using your ultimate. Generally, if the enemy team has the ability to hard engage and your damage dealers are strong, you want to peel the enemy divers/engagers off using your Q, E and R.
If your team has the advantage to engage, you should catapult yourself onto the enemy squishy champions with your E and immediately charging your Ult underneath them. Once you have charged for the full 1.1 seconds, scoop them up and drop them in the middle of your team. A proper Zac engage can single-handedly win a teamfight.
As far as your build, it will depend on the enemy team composition and change from game to game, as with all builds in League of Legends. A standard build against a team that does both magical and physical damage would be rushing Cinderhulk, then building Ninja Tabis, Deadman's Plate, Spirit Visage, Gargoyle's Stoneplate, and Warmog's Armor.
(If you are against a team with only magic damage, stack several Magic Resist items. If you are against a team with only physical damage, stack Armor items.)
Some situational items you could build are Liandry's Torment if your team lacks magic damage, or Zz'Rot portal as a substitute for Warmog's Armor if the enemy team has a lot %health damage, such as the item Blade of the Ruined King or champions like Kog'Maw or Malzahar.
Tips and Tricks For Zac in League of Legends
1.) If you aren't sure if you can land your E (perhaps your target is a very mobile champion) but you want to gank a lane, you can also walk up to them and hit them with your Q, then auto a minion in the enemy minion wave. This will pull them towards the minion and set up for a point blank E and potentially Ult.
2.) Zac's champion size will increase and decrease with the amount of total current health he has, so he's gonna get pretty massive with all the health items you'll be building. You can make use of this by using Gargoyle's Stoneplate to double your health pool and standing in front of your damage dealers to block skillshots with your gigantic body. Additionally, Zac becomes very small when at low health, so escaping when you are low is much easier, since you are harder to track and hit with skillshots.
Zac's state in 7.11 ensures he will be a strong champion for many patches to come, as Riot has not shown any desire to heavily nerf him. You now know everything you need to dominate with Zac, so get into game and spread the goo. There's plenty of him to go around.
Note: If you aren't familiar with Zac's abilities, take a look at the midseason update.
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