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Calling the Void: Taking a Look at the strengths of Malzahar

Tyrodesh

Tyrodesh

Sat 2nd Dec 2017 - 1:59pm

Midlane has been dominated by increasingly difficult champions to play (at least in solo queue) for a while now, including Syndra, Taliyah, Ryze, Cassiopeia and more. Some of these picks (Ryze and Aurelion Sol being the best examples) are even harder to play in solo queue because they are so dependent on effective communication with your teammates. This is not the case with Malzahar. He is a potent but easy champion to play, allowing for easy picks with his strong crowd control. Malzahar had a 9:1 win/lose ratio at the 2017 World Championship, with Crown picking him 6 times and winning all of his games. He currently has the highest winrate in solo queue in the midlane position at 55%. In this article, I'll explain why he is one of the best solo queue picks at the moment and I'll show you an example of a rune page, mastery page, skill order and build you can use.

Strengths

  • Easy to play

Malzahar is extremely easy to play, with potent near-instant wave clear which allows you to stay safe, so players that have trouble with dying or farming will have an easy time with him. His combo consists of using all his abilities on his target before ulting them, which will deal huge amounts of damage to any enemy.

  • Great lane phase

It is nearly impossible to lose lane as Malzahar. His passive shield can block CC if it isn't popped first, which makes solo kills and ganks on you hard to execute. His unmatched pushing power allows him clear the waves and have nearly perfect CS after you learn how to farm with him. Lane phase is usually where games are decided in solo queue, so a nearly ungankable champion is always a plus. 

  • Useful even when behind

With a 2 seconds AoE silence with a 3.6 second cooldown at 40% CDR and a point and click 2.5 second suppression with a 48 second cooldown at 40% CDR, you will always be useful in teamfights even if you are set behind. The sheer pick potential you have with your Q+R is immense, and should not be underestimated. The fact that the ultimate is a point and click ability with considerable range, which basically makes it always reliable, makes Malzahar one of the best midlaners to play from behind.

Weaknesses

  • Countered by Quicksilver Sash

Quicksilver Sash counters most crowd-control and, with it being one of the major strengths of Malzahar, this item makes his life harder. Although setting your opponent (usually a mid-lane mage) 1300 gold behind is always a good thing.

  • Relies on items to deal damage

With Malzahar's base damage being pretty bad, he has great AP ratios, and because of it, scales extremely well with items.

  • Weak early game

His early game (pre level 6) is quite weak, and his pushing power only powers up when you get Lost Chapter.

Skills

Passive: Void shift

Malzahar receives Void Shift if he hasn't taken damage nor been affected by crowd control in the last 30/24/18/12 seconds. Damage from minions does not interact with Void Shift. Void Shift phases out Malzahar, making him immune to crowd control and taking 90% reduced damage, lingering for 0.25 seconds after taking damage or blocking a crowd control effect.

This is what makes you a nightmare to all-in/gank. It allows you to stay safe in lane and in turn, die less, which is always a good thing.

Q: Call of the Void

After a 0.25-seconds delay, Malzahar summons two orbs at the target location perpendicular to where he is facing, after a 0.4-seconds delay dealing magic damage to all enemies caught between the orbs and silencing them.

A spammable AoE silence. The value of this ability alone cannot be underestimated, as its high AP ratios and low cooldowns make it an invaluable addition to your kit. Also, when hitting it on a target afflicted with your E, it resets the duration.

W: Void Swarm

PASSIVE: Malzahar gains a stack of Gathering Swarm when he casts another spell, up to a maximum of 2. Stacks of Gathering Swarm can be gained during the summoning, but will not be consumed.

ACTIVE: Malzahar summons a Voidling after a 0.35 seconds delay at the target location plus an additional Voidling for each stack of Gathering Swarm consumed. Voidlings deal magic damage with its attacks. Voidlings deal 50% damage to epic monsters, and 300% damage against lane minions affected by Malefic Visions.

This ability, combined with your E, makes you a pushing monster. Your Voidlings destroy everything afflicted with your E. Just make sure to not confuse them and afflict two targets with your E!

E: Malefic Visions

Malzahar infects the target enemy's mind, dealing them magic damage every half second over 4 seconds. Damaging a target with Call of the Void or Nether Grasp will refresh the duration of Malefic Visions.

If the target dies during this time, they pass Malefic Visions onto the closest enemy, refreshing the duration and restoring 2% of Malzahar's maximum mana.

The bread and butter of your kit. It deals damage over time, it restores your mana, and makes you a poke god in lane once you get some AP.

R: Nether Grasp

Malzahar knocks down an enemy champion. For the next 2.5 seconds Malzahar channels, during which the target is dealt magic damage and suppressed.

A Null Zone is opened beneath the target that lasts 5 seconds, dealing magic damage every second to both Nether Grasp's target as well as all other enemies within it.

This ability makes your pick potential one of the best in the game. The damage of it cannot be underestimated, as it has two sources: The flat beam damage and the max HP% damage of the Null Zone it opens. Did I mention it resets your E and allows you to unleash your Voidlings to ravage your enemy? Because it does.

Skill order

You max E first, because it is your primary source of pushing power and damage in your kit. You can follow up with maxing Q second, as a spammable AoE silence is always a good thing, and its damage is great as well. You take points in your R whenever you can and max W last, as it offers less benefits when leveled up than your other three abilities. In order, you max R>E>Q>W.

Summoner Spells

You take Teleport to gank other lanes and so you can permapush your own. Flash is self-explanatory, as it allows you to escape ganks, to chase down kills, and more. 

Runes

Now let's take a look at why you should pick the runes above.

Your main tree will be Sorcery with you taking:

Arcane Comet - Your spammable abilities allow you to repeatedly proc it on cooldown, and reduce its cooldown with your E and W. When you buy Rylai's, the hit-rate of Comet will become a near 100%.

The Ultimate Hat - The more you can R, the more picks you can make with your team. Malzahar is one of the main users of this rune, as using your ultimate on cooldown is extremely viable on him.

Transcendence - Malzahar loves CDR, and with picking up this mastery you will have 35% CDR at 10 minutes (assuming you completed your Morellonomicon).

Gathering Storm - Grants 120 AP at 50 minutes, which makes your scaling even better. Also, free AP is always good!

Now your secondary tree will be Inspiration where you should take:

Magical Footwear - Free boots at 10 minutes. The duration your 10 minute wait can be decreased with a 30 seconds reduction per takedown.

Cosmic Insight - Malzahar loved CDR and CDR loves him. Stack it, as with Transcendence the extra CDR gets converted to AP or AD (in your case it's AP)

Build

Morellonomicon is a staple to nearly every mid lane mage build and Malzahar is no exception. Anything it offers, he gladly accepts.

Ludicity Boots combined with Morellonomicon and your runes will allow you to reach 45% cooldown reduction at level 18, which allows you to spam your crowd control even more.

Liandry's Torment and Void Staff combined allow you to melt tanks and squishies alike and provide a considerable power spike when you complete them both.

Rylai's provides a near constant slow with your E, and your spammable abilities and low cooldowns make this item a great buy.

Rabadons Deathcap finishes your build, and adds that extra oomph to your abilities.

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