We’ve seen Malzahar in many lanes since his rework. He’s punished mid laners forever, and become the support that’s turned back time (only to have the same events replay themselves). However, we have yet to see Malzahar in the top lane, as a threatening presence against tanks who have risen to prominence there. Now that tanks have become the soup du jour, Malzahar has skyrocketed to be the #1 win rate champion in both mid and top lane on patch 7.15.
Even though his pets take fewer hits than they used to, the old void man still has some new tricks. Well, still the same tricks, just ordered differently in order to optimize the champion.
Why does this work?
Think of Malzahar as a similar tank buster to Swain. Both have crazy durability and can easily itemize into shredding items such as Liandry’s Torment. They also have pets that come out of nowhere and scare the crap out of you.
There are also two additional bonuses to playing Malzahar, creepy pets aside. One is that Malzahar is a ranged champion, leading to easier harass onto other top laners, who are traditionally melee champions. Secondly, Malzahar sports a passive that makes him completely immune to crowd control if it’s up. If you’re worried about a Darius pulling you in, or a Yasuo knocking you up and ulting you, it will be way less likely with this idiot-proof shield on your side. Just look at how this random Malzahar lanes against God himse- I mean, Faker.
And if that doesn’t work out? Just hit the enemy with a massive silence that spans the entire lane, makes it impossible for them to close the gap for a short time and deals massive damage. Once your Q is level 5 with 40% CDR, it has less than three seconds of crowd control downtime. With this amount of silence, you might as well change your occupation to “easily annoyed librarian.”
At Level 6, an addendum to that librarian resume should include the talent of “being a walking finger trap.” Your suppression ultimate, which is hard for top laners to itemize against early with Quicksilver Sash, will give you the upper hand in any 1v1 fight. And, if you’re itching for free kills (who isn’t in these trying times?), bring a friend along to gank the helpless enemy laner as you channel 2.5 seconds of suppressing purple goop onto them.
As you scale and build a core of Morellonomicon, Rylai’s Crystal Scepter, and Liandry’s Torment, you become deceptively tanky alongside the Fearless mastery. Seriously, how has this thing not been nerfed yet? It’s not even a keystone mastery and it gives you a free Chain Vest and Negatron Cloak in stats... That’s my weekly Fearless rant quota over and done with.
The combined power of these items should give you the ability to kite and kill all targets, ranging from squishy carries to burly tanks. And if you can’t blow people up, your Q has enough utility and base damage that you can slowly chip them down too. Just make sure to max it once out of lane for the greatest effect.
Doran’s Ring + Two Health Potions
Lost Chapter + Sorcerer Shoes
Rylai’s Crystal Scepter
Zhonya's Hourglass/Banshee's Veil/Rabadon's Deathcap
Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a news editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.