Zed is a ninja. You can tell this because a) his armour and b) he can move in that armour without cutting himself on all his sharp bits c) and most importantly he uses said sharp bits to assassinate his enemies. He’s a ganker: using the shadows to conjure duplicates of himself he that let him strike from a multitude of angles. Literally.
Zed excels at delivering burst damage and chasing down fleeing foes. All of his take advantage of him being able to create shadow versions of himself, which duplicate his spells. This immediately increases damage output while also extending his range of initiation. Lets take a look at how his abilities work:
- Contempt for the Weak (Passive): Whenever Zed attacks an enemy below 50% Health, he deals an additional 8% of their maximum Health as magic damage. This effect has a short cooldown.
- Razor Shuriken: Zed and his shadow both throw their shurikens, dealing physical damage to any target they pass through. Each Shuriken deals less damage to targets beyond the first.
- Living Shadow: Zed’s shadow dashes forward, remaining in place for a short duration. Zed’s shadow will duplicate his spells. Activating Living Shadow again while his shadow is active will cause Zed to switch positions with his shadow. If both Zed and his shadow strike the same target with Razor Shurikens or Shadow Slash, Zed regains some energy and the target suffers an additional effect: Razor Shurikens deal additional bonus damage and the slow from Shadow Slash is dramatically increased.
- Shadow Slash: Zed and his shadow both create a burst of shadow, dealing physical damage to nearby enemies. Zed’s Shadow Slash slightly reduces the cooldown of Living Shadow by for each unit struck. The shadow’s Shadow Slash briefly slows enemies.
- Death Mark: Zed sinks into the shadows and dashes to his target, dealing physical damage. He also spawns a Living Shadow beyond the target, which duplicates his spells and marks the target. After 3 seconds, the mark will detonate, dealing physical damage based on the damage dealt to the target by Zed and his shadow while the mark was active. Zed can reactivate this ability to switch positions with this shadow.
His Razor Shurikens are great for spamming and harassing, while Living Shadow ensures staying in range of the enemy. Shadow Slash can be devastating when cast in clumps of enemies which decreases its cooldown and applies a huge slow. This makes Death Mark the icing on the cake for finishing off those pesky champions trying to flee the scene, synergising well with his passive Contempt of the Weak to add to that detonating finality.
Zed is most at home while in the mid lane or the jungle. By using his shadow clone he can initiate on his enemies with ease. He can choose to use his shadow clone to deal damage from safety or get stuck to deal tons of damage.
I wonder though, what would happen if I went into the game options and turned off shadows completely?