Background Image

In-Depth Zilean Guide: Strategy and Tactics

Published: February 17, 2020
League of Legends Zilean Strategy Guide for the Time Keeper

Zilean is an amazing support and mid-lane champion. He combines massive AoE stuns and decent damage with a team-fight winning ultimate. Zilean is definitely underplayed and misunderstood. We hope this Zilean guide will help you make the best of this great champ!

What Makes Zilean Special?

In League, most support champions either protect/boost their allies or disrupt their enemies through crowd control (CC). Few champions can do both, yet Zilean is one of them! Zilean’s ultimate Chronoshift Chronoshift can revive fallen teammates in the middle of a fight while his Q Time Bomb Time Bomb can apply the largest, non-ult stun in the game. Furthermore, his E Time Warp has the ability to both speed up allies as well as slow fleeing or pursuing enemies.

Pros for Zilean

  • Great poke and zoning potential in lane due to his Q Time Bomb
  • Can reposition quickly or rush to a fight using his E Time Warp
  • Chronoshift played correctly at the right moment can completely change the game
  • His passive Time in a Bottle can help turn around a losing lane by boosting teammates experience

Cons for Zilean

  • Most of Zilean’s abilities are skill shots, meaning if you don’t land them correctly, you are useless
  • Very squishy
  • Susceptible to silence effects
  • Not all teammates will trust your ability to ult at the right moment and therefore it’s hard to take full advantage of Zil’s abilities

Overview of Zilean's Abilities

Zilean Ability Time in a Bottle is His Passive

Zilean Passive Skill - Time in a Bottle

Zilean will generate and store a small amount of experience over time. When he has stored enough to level up an ally, he can use it to grant them enough experience to level up while receiving the same amount in return. This is a very useful passive in the early and mid games to help out allies that have fallen behind. However, late game, when most champions are already level 18, his passive is useless.

Tricks to Using Time in a Bottle

  • While casting, if your target continues to gain experience, the benefit to both of you will be reduced.
  • Using this ability to boost you and your lane mate to level 6 before your opponents can help you get an early kill.
Zilean Ability Time Bomb Is of an Explosive in Blue

Q - Time Bomb

Zilean throws a high-range, skillshot bomb at his enemies. It will stick to the first enemy or ally that passes nearby. The bomb will stick to minions or monsters, but it follows this priority order:

  1. Units with a bomb already attached
  2. Enemy / Ally champions
  3. Enemy / Ally minions and monsters
  4. Alone, the bomb is a source of moderate damage; however, used in combination with his W Rewind ability, Zilean can apply two bombs on one target quickly (Q-W-Q), which results in the first bomb instantly detonating and causing the largest, non-ultimate AoE stun in the game!

Tricks with this Zilean Ability

  • Placing bombs on allied initiators or champions with invisibility can lead to an unexpected burst of damage at the start of a fight.
  • Placing bombs on allies as they teleport into a fight is a great way to support a fight from a distance and can help land you an assist.
  • Enemy champions will expect to dodge your bombs. Targeting enemy minions near a champion may be a better way to ensure a stun.
  • Bombs grant vision to you and your allies. Use them to scout bushes or over walls without putting yourself in danger. If you find an enemy, you can follow it up to stun the group waiting in ambush.
  • An un-exploded bomb will not grant an assist.
Zilean Ability Rewind of a Golden Clock Moving Back in Time

W - Rewind

Zilean reduces the cooldown of his other non-ultimate abilities by 10 seconds. Leveling this ability only reduces its cooldown. Combining this ability with further CDR can allow Zilean to output a nearly constant stream of AoE stuns and speed buffs.

Tricks to Master Rewind

  • This is a great ability to level up after you have maxed Q Time Bomb to further maximize your damage/stun potential.
Zilean's Time Warp Ability Shows Time Moving Backwards in a Spiral

E - Time Warp

Zilean’s E ability is very versatile. He can choose to either buff the movement speed of an ally (including himself) or slow an enemy. The movement modifier is very large, hitting 99% at level 5. Just watch out for tenacity on enemy champions. It can help them evade much of your slow effect.

Tricks to Using Time Warp at the Right Moment

  • The movement speed penalty of 99% may be a little misleading. Currently, you cannot reduce the movement speed of a champion below 110.
  • Use this ability to get back to lane faster or to place wards quickly.
  • This ability is often best used in a team fight on your ADC to allow them to kite better.
Zil Ult with three bells signifying he is undoing events with his ability

Zilean Ult - Chronoshift

Zilean’s ultimate allows him to place a protective ward on either himself or an ally that will revive them with a large amount of health if killed. More or less, it’s Guardian Angel in a skill with a much lower cooldown. Used at the right time, Zilean can turn the tide of a game.

How to Time Chronoshift Ability on Zilean to Save the Day

  • Chronoshift’s ability to revive is also useful as a deterrent. Enemies will often shift their focus to avoid procing the revive.
  • Don’t wait too long to use your ultimate. It can’t save anyone if they’re already dead.
  • When an ally is revived using Chronoshift, the enemy team is denied their kill gold.
  • Unless the fight is almost over and you are the only one in danger of dying, use your ultimate to save or protect your highest damage dealing teammate.

Best Zilean Ability Sequence

Zilean Skill Order Showing What Zil Skills to Pick and in what order

Summoner Spells

Exhaust Summoner Spell Showing a Man Bent Over and Tired


Yes, Zilean does have a slow as an ability, but Exhaust is still the best summoner spell for him. Used in combination with Time Warp to speed yourself or an ally, you are almost guaranteed to escape from even the fastest foe. Additionally, it’s damage reduction is always handy.

Flash Summoner Spell Showing a Man Teleporting Forward


Of course, you should take Flash. It’s essential for almost every champion. It can save you in tight spots where speed boosts alone can’t save you. You can also use it offensively to Flash in and try to stun the enemies while they are caught off guard.

Zilean's Best Item Build

As a starting item, I would recommend either Spellthief's Edge Spellthief’s Edge or Ancient Coin Ancient Coin. Usually, I prefer to take Ancient Coin due to the large amount of mana regen it affords, which allows you to keep us the harass early.

For the best late-game item builds, check out our Zilean build page, which contains the best item builds versus a variety of team types (i.e. tanky, CC heavy, AD, etc…). The data there is built entirely from real match data and is updated often.

Laning Phase

If your enemies don’t have a lot of sustain in lane (i.e. Soraka is not your lane opponent), poke, poke, POKE! Throw bomb after bomb at your enemy, causing them to lose CS and take damage. This will reduce their gold income and reduce the possibility they can effectively mount a counter-attack. If the enemy support can effectively heal and/or shield their teammate, don’t waste your time poking early; you will just waste your mana.

Be careful not to steal your ADC’s CS with your bombs.

Zilean Strategy Guide with Candy Appearance

When you obtain your ultimate Zilean Chronoshift Chronoshift, reassure your teammate that you’ve got their back. Give them the confidence to be a risk-taker and make the big plays, knowing that you will be there to save them if things go south.

Mid and Late Game Strategy for Zilean

After a tower or two have fallen and you are able to roam more out of lane, focus on effectively warding the map. Your Zilean Time Bomb allows you to peer into the brush you want to ward without risking a face check. Furthermore, your Time Warp will allow you to return to the safety of your teammates quickly.

When team fighting, use your Time Warp to either allow your marksman to kite better or to allow your tank to initiate more effectively. Stun groups of enemies or anyone approaching your backline. Cast Zilean Chronoshift to protect your ADC or mid, who will likely be dealing the majority of your team’s damage.

We hope you have enjoyed this detailed Zilean guide. For more great League of Legends champion guides, check out our Yone guide or our Nocturne guide, depending if you are looking to improve as a mid or as a jungle.

Images Courtesy of Riot Games.