"The Timeless Explorer" - An Ezreal Guide
Fri 1st Sep 2017 - 3:57pm
Ezreal has been my go to ADC pick for a long time now, after I transitioned out of being a Riven one-trick. None of my clanmates played ADC particularly well, so I figured I could be that guy. I'd been watching Imaqtpie and Gosu stream for years now so I felt like I had a decent idea of how to play the role. I'd previously been pretty exclusive to the top and jungle roles, under the impression that bot lane was too reliant on the other person to not lose the lane for you. The transition had some growing pains, and I discovered I really liked mobile ADCs for the simple fact you can't always trust your team to peel. In time I got comfortable on all of the picks, but one stood out to me. Ezreal felt like the ADC version of Riven. Super mobile, good damage, and lots of outplay potential. I don't really believe in "bad matchups" when I play Ezreal and it endears him to me the same way Riven's ability to outplay does. His kit rewards you for being able to weave skillshots in with the autoattacks and knowing the exact moment to dive all the way in or kite back. To play him at his highest level requires both mechanical prowess and superior decision making that can only be gained through practice. Everyone has to start somewhere though, so we'll cover some basic information before we Arcane Shift in to the deeper things.
Passive: "Rising Spell Force"
This is a very simple passive that rewards you for landing consecutive spells onto the enemy. Every time you hit an enemy with a spell, you gain 10% attack speed for 6 seconds. This effect will stack up to 5 times and with all 4 of his abilities doing damage, some being area of effect, this is very easy to charge up and mow down minions, towers, or champions.
Q Ability: Mystic Shot
A simple ability that is incredibly important to how you build and play Ezreal. You fire a bolt of energy that damages the first enemy unit it strikes. Beyond that, every time you successfully land one, it reduces all cooldowns by 1.5 seconds. It also applies on-hit effects to the target, including but not limited to red buff, Sheen procs, and lifesteal. It also resets your auto attack, and has higher base damage than your auto attacks. This ability is absolutely key to everything Ezreal does and should be maxed first.
W Ability: Essence Flux
This ability is very important to AP Ezreal, but for an ADC, its purpose is entirely utility. It scales purely with magic damage and only does magic damage. However, if you cast it over your teammates they will get an attack speed buff that can be very useful for taking down objectives. It also can serve as a reset for your Sheen proc, possibly giving you the little bit of extra damage needed to win a trade or secure a kill. While you will be maxing this last, it's not as useless as it may appear.
E Ability: Arcane Shift
This is my favorite ability of Ezreal's. Any time I can have mobility and damage combined, I'm in. You blink to another location, the range of which is 475 (the "Flash" summoner spell is 400 range for comparison) and fire a bolt dealing magic damage at the nearest enemy unit. Its cooldown gets as low as 13 seconds at max rank, or 7.8 seconds with maximum cooldown reduction and this gets reduced by 1.5 seconds every time you land a Mystic Shot. Late game, it allows you to reposition multiple times in the same teamfight, kite backwards, or even dive in to secure a kill. Effectively using this ability is often what separates the good Ezreals from the bad.
R Ability: Arcane Barrage
Two words. Large Banana. Two more words. Global Ultimate. This ability launches a large projectile after a one second channel, that will continue until it flies off the map and hits all units it passes through with magic damage. The drawback is that every unit it passes through, it loses 10% damage. This ability has so many uses. Did your enemy laners force you to back early? Throw an ult from base and collect the wave they try to crash into your tower. Pushing down a tower? Throw it down the lane and get instant maximum stacks of your passive to push with (provided it hits at least 5 minions). As is the motif of his kit, this is a simple ability on paper that has a lot of uses.
Skill priority is as follows. R > Q > E > W. For your early levels you want to start with your Q, then take E, and finally W. Maxing Q reduces its cooldown, and therefore reduces the cooldowns of all your other spells because the more Qs you hit, the shorter the rest of your cooldowns are. E is a natural second because each level-up reduces the cooldown by 1.5 seconds allowing you to reduce it from 19 seconds at rank 1 to 13 seconds at rank 5. W gets left for last because the utility just isn't important enough to warrant higher priority.
Runes and Masteries
Runes and masteries are interesting. 18-0-12 is the "meta" way to play him, taking fervor because in an ideal situation you really pile the damage onto your enemy from multiple sources that stack it quickly. In the Ferocity tree, I really like to prioritize sustain in the early part of the tree. I use the same page as my Jhin so before the game loads in I switch from Warlords Boodlust (Jhin) to Fervor (Ezreal). I take my traditional "Lucian" ADC page with 18-0-12.
But, with his versatility I'll take a second to explain why I like to take 12-18-0 sometimes. This is actually kind of a call-back to when I mained Riven in Season 5/6. Thunderlord's gives you great lane dominance and really helps you trade. My favorite situation to take this is when I have a poke support like Karma or Sona and I know we can really apply pressure to the lane. This is where your W skill actually becomes useful. You need to do damage 3 times, and that's very easy with his W providing a decently hard to miss skillshot that makes it so you only need to land two auto attacks or a Q and an auto. Capping out at 45% CDR makes his mid/lategame really fun and effective with how much you can blink around and fire skillshots. I take 12-18-0 with my AD/CDR page exclusively.
For items I almost get the exact same 3 items every time, just in varying order. Begin with Doran's blade and a potion, and on my first back I try to get 1770 gold if reasonably possible. This gives you a Tear of the Goddess, which you can start stacking up. You will also have gold for a Sheen, which turns him from an arguably bad laner into a good one. Your Qs will hit really hard especially if both your lane opponents are squishy, and you get cooldown reduction and a larger mana pool. I usually finish Manamune first unless I'm really being oppressed, in which case I prefer Iceborn for the defensive stats and extra help when kiting. Once you have those items, work towards a Blade of the Ruined King. Again, your Q will proc the BoTRK passive combined with auto attacks, letting you deal lots of damage to even tankier units, and the active can help you kite in a pinch. He kind of needs this and a Last Whisper item to burn down the tanks so prevalent in the meta. So this pidgeonholes you into 4 items off the bat, I pretty much always get Cooldown Reduction Boots, and your last item is where you have some variance. Mercurial Scimitar is pretty useful. It adds to the lifesteal from BoTRK and the active is great especially against CC heavy compositions. Guardian Angel allows you to play a little more forward which can help lay down poke before a teamfight or even dive in to secure a kill. The only time this build really changes is if I get very far ahead early and have good peel, I'll buy a Trinity Force.
Here you want to poke and farm. Your E allows you to follow up on engages or disengage from the enemy without burning Flash. I like to ward the forward bush in lane if I'm pushing at the midpoint, or the close lane bush if I'm being pushed in. Communicate this with your support so they can ward other priority spots around the river. Max Q, try not to use it to CS so you don't burn through your mana pool too fast. Use your Q to CS under tower as needed and try to line up poke on the enemy team. Once you get Sheen, you can start to poke more aggressively and become an oppressive laner. If you find yourself falling behind and you back with about 1100-1200 gold, consider a Tear of Goddess and a Cull instead of outright purchasing a Sheen and trying to salvage your lane pressure. You'll sacrifice early damage, but when you get everything stacked up in mid game you'll roar back to relevancy.
You want to be opportunistic about pushing objectives and using your poke to keep the enemy team weary of just running at your team. Unload your skillshots into whatever is in front of you, but be aware of low health enemy squishies that you could finish off with your ult. Red buff is wonderful both mid and late game, being applied to your Q and compounding with Iceborn Gauntlet for nice DPS and slows. Use Sheen to burn down towers, remember the attack speed steroid from your W can really help your teammates take down objectives as well. In skirmishes your ability to position and use your E correctly will make or break the fights.
This is where Ezreal can be really good or really bad. With BoTRK and Last Whisper, even tanks will have to be weary of your damage. You'll have max CDR with runes, and you'll rain down Qs upon the enemy team. So the best way I can explain Ezreal in team fights is a video of me getting a pentakill in ranked, and while it's not a super outplay, it is just a decent job of teamfighting with a full build.
Notice how I stay far enough back that if the enemy team wants to focus me, they will have to dive very far out of their base and into my team, while I just try and use my auto attacks and Qs to DPS down the tankline. I cast my ult when I see members of the enemy team together with low health, and then I E forward since my team now has the clear advantage and we just need to clean up and finish the game. The E damage on Caitlin prevents my friend from KSing me, and again when Kha'Zix makes the desperation play at the end I use my E to get back to safety. In this game, I had the benefit of a great frontline to play behind, but when you don't have that luxury you will find yourself using E more defensively. This is the best case scenario for Ezreal: playing safe until it's time to flip the switch and then going aggressive to clean up the enemy team.
The best way to learn a champion is practice, but hopefully this information gets you started with what to do, and how to do it. He's in a pretty bad place in the current meta, with crit champions on the rise due to cheaper item builds than before. Ezreal benefits from a good support, but other units can abuse it more especially with the strength of items like Ardent Censor so he just gets out shined by other ADCs, but if I'm 2-2 in a best of 5 promotion series and I get ADC, I'm going Ezreal and I'll live and die by that pick.
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