With the release of patch 7.23 in late November, a number of interesting and game defining features have been introduced into League of Legends: namely Zoe, an exciting and unique champion addition to the 134 strong roster.
While a later patch fixed some of the issues introduced in 7.23, we’re here to focus on Zoe, the Aspect of the Twilight, who's essentially a 5,000 year old celestial being in the form of an innocent looking child. While she skips merrily around the Summoners Rift with a rope made out of stars, by no means should she be taken lightly.
She’s typically classified as an ability power mid-laner, with high burst damage, as well as strong crowd control, and outplay potential. While she’s been out in the wild for a little while now, join us as we run through the best ways to maximise Zoe, just what exactly her abilities are, her play style, and some extra added insight from those in the know.
Passive: More Sparkles!
Zoe’s passive is very simple. When she casts an ability, her next basic attack or bubble deals a smidgen of magic damage, depending on her level. At level 1, she’ll have an added 17 damage on basic attack, going all the way up to 140 damage at max level. Furthermore, it’s increased by 25 percent AP, making it a sizable amount in the later stages of the game.
Q: Paddle Star
Target range: 800
Cost: 50 / 55 / 60 / 65 / 70 mana
Cooldown: 7.5 / 7 / 6.75 / 6.5 / 6.25
Paddle Star is the bread and butter of Zoe’s kit. It’s a two-part ability that damages in a small area when colliding with an enemy, or minion. However, if the spell doesn't hit a target, it will pause at max distance for a second – it can then be recast in an entirely different direction. The spell can be recast at any time; it doesn’t necessarily have to be cast at its full duration. This gives you the option to outsmart your opponent, using Paddle Star in unpredictable angles. The damage of the ability is increased 0 percent to 150 percent based on travel distance – essentially, the further Paddle Star travels, the more damage it will do.
W: Spell Thief
Zoe’s a mage – this isn’t World of Warcraft, but she does have her very own spell steal. Spell Thief is a passive ability that corresponds to her enemy’s use of a summoner spell or an active item. Some minions also drop shards that can be picked up, including over 40 different variations. Every summoner spell has a chance to drop, but not every item. They both have a chance to drop multiple times, and at any level. A singular spell or active can be stored at a time, and they must be used within a one minute timer.
If you pick up a Flash, for example, and she already has that summoner available on her D/F , when you use the summoner spell, it will consume her Spell Thief, rather than her actual flash. If a spell or item is consumed and hasn’t been used, it can be replaced by a new shard, if picked up.
Additionally, when Zoe uses Spell Thief, or one of her own summoners, she's granted added movement speed, as well as three orbiting bubbles. They work similarly to Ahri’s W, firing one at a time within a short period. They will fire at the last target attacked, if at range; but if not, they will automatically shoot at the nearest enemy.
E: Sleepy Trouble Bubble
Target range: 800
Cost: 80 mana
Cooldown: 16 / 15.5 / 15 / 14.5 / 14
Sleepy Trouble Bubble is Zoe’s crowd control section of her kit. In its natural form, it’s a medium range skill shot. It travels and detonates on its first enemy hit, including minions. It deals a little magic damage, but most importantly, it puts its target to sleep after a brief moment. The crowd control lasts for two seconds and additionally, the target takes bonus magic damage when hit. If the ability fails to hit a target, it remains on the ground for four seconds, as a trap.
What makes Sleepy Trouble Bubble unique is its increase in range, when accompanied with terrain. When Zoe’s E ability is thrown over a wall, its original medium range will temporarily be forgotten, and will continue after it's finished its journey through a wall. This means the ability has the potential to travel long distances when used correctly. It can continue to travel through the terrain of the map, and rather than stopping immediately, it has the possibility of reaching an enemy almost anywhere on the width of the lane.
The ability can be used to target far away enemies who are off guard, not expecting a bubble to seemingly come out of nowhere. In a team fight, back line carries could be targeted and caught out, resulting in their death. Sleepy Trouble Bubble is extremely useful and must be practiced to properly understand its possibilities.
R: Portal Jump
Target range: 575
Cost: 50 mana
Cooldown: 11 / 8 / 5
Zoe’s ultimate is one of her simplest abilities – it’s what makes her such a dynamic and powerful champion. Portal Jump speaks for itself. Zoe targets a location, dives into a portal and after a brief delay, pops out the other side for one second. When she has reached her destination, she can use any ability, but whatever she does, she will teleport back to her original location. This ability synergises well with her Paddle Star: remember, the further it travels, the more damage it does. Zoe can use Paddle Star behind her, Q again to the target in front of her, and then use her Portal Jump to add those few extra important yards for some extra damage.
Zoe is a playmaking champion. She doesn’t want to sit back idly, minding her own business, farming away to her heart's content, under the comfort of her tower. She wants to get deep in the action, looking for any opportunity to make a play, or a well-timed roam across the map.
Due to the RNG factor of Zoe’s kit, you should be prepared to adapt to unpredictable circumstances. When a minion is signalling that it’s going to drop a shard that will activate her W ability, you’ll want to be proactive, anticipating a certain summoning spell, or item.
A well-versed Zoe player will be on the ball, ready to react when her enemy uses a summoners spell. Due to Zoe’s Leblanc-esque max-range burst damage, the element of surprise is key to maximizing her potential. A good Zoe player will aim to use the Fog of War to her advantage, positioning her Q in unpredictable angles, so her enemy mid laner will not anticipate where the brunt of the damage will come from.
The same applies for her E ability, where the use of terrain increases the range of its CC. An enemy, concentrating on farming, or on their lane opponent, may not be on guard when a stray Zoe E floats through a nearby brush and puts them sound to sleep, resulting in their inevitable death.
Zoe’s combination of abilities, items and summoner spells are endless, making her a difficult champion to muster. The difference between an average Zoe player and an excellent Zoe will be a sizable margin.
Alexey ‘Alex Ich’ Ichetovkin, ex-midlaner for Team EnVyUs, tells us, “Zoe has a lot of weaknesses (playing vs. tanks, especially Tahm Kench) because of her lack of consistent damage. She is a poke champion, so she is good in poke compositions paired with champions such as Jhin.”
“Most of the time as Zoe, you want to play in chokes/places with lots of walls,” he says. “It makes it an easier time for you to control fights over walls – with the help of her E ability. If you have control of places where you fight, with good vision control, it’s pretty easy to land abilities from the sides. You should take advantage of the map, as, eventually tank champions like Sejuani, Maokai, or Tahm Kench can just face-tank your poke.”
“Zoe is definitely not the easiest champion for new players. And the biggest tip I would give to someone that wanted to play Zoe is, don’t start playing her the first time in Ranked. Practice E’s over walls to see all angles you can do, as well as her Q Q R combo.”
Item builds in League of Legends are often dynamic. Potentially anything is possible, but for Zoe, she’ll likely want to opt for a standard path. The use of CDR, onto magic penetration and pure AP will be a smart guideline. Other possible situational items, such as Zhonya’s Hourglass, Luden’s Echo, or defensive items like Quicksilver Sash and Banshee’s Veil, will also be entirely viable.
Here’s one standard example of what her build may look like:
You will start with Zoe’s trusty Doran’s Ring, like most AP mid laners, alongside two health potions and a ward. Once she backs, possibly around level 6, depending on how her lane is going, or if she can get a good early push going – she’ll buy some sustain items. She needs that extra mana in order to spam her abilities, without feeling the need to back again unnecessarily. A pink ward will also be useful, so you can push forward without having to worry too much about her enemy jungler.
After her blue buff expires – if it’s gifted to her – she may want to back again for some extra mobility and snowball potential. At this point, you should be aiming to roam across the map. It’s not always possible, but if you have lane dominance, perhaps a kill over your opponent, then it shouldn’t be too difficult. Once she has the ball rolling, with potentially the double kill she just got in bot lane, Zoe can freely head back again, and continue to push mid.
At this point, Zoe is in her stride. Her lane opponent quivers behind his towers as she repeatedly tries to catch him with a Q combo or an E. If her jungler helps her, a tower dive is possible. She should aim to build more AP and magic penetration as the game goes on, to combat the enemy team’s scaling tanks. In the late game, she has the ability to one shot or severely chunk squishies, who haven’t opted to build magic resist, but tanks may still be a real threat.
There is no set of runes that Zoe must abide by. It’s more about preference, or in response to the state of the pick and ban phase. The game being in the pre-season has been a place to test and theorise the new rune system, replacing the previous mastery and rune, and combining them into one.
There is no perfect rune page for Zoe, but here are a couple that could work well and be effectively utilised in most situations.
It’s not clear whether Arcane Comet or Summon Aery is superior yet, but either will do nicely in an aggressive poke-style game.