A lot of very awesome content is currently sitting on the PBE just waiting to be unleashed upon the LoL community. This post is a little bit late, in regards to Zac, but I wanted to wait until I could review Karma as well. I will be leaving Karma’s writeup until tomorrow. As usual, these will be my thoughts on the champs and their abilities. I will provide links to pages with much better pictures and stats breakdowns than I could ever hope to provide. Credit for any videos goes entirely to surrender@20.
Zac (surrender@20 article here)
Cell Division (Passive) : Think of this ability as being kind of like another version of the Anivia egg. Like the Anivia egg, it is strongest in the early game where it will allow you to survive tower dives, awkward ganks and basically any situation where the enemy team doesn’t have the strength or isn’t alive to finish you off. The little chunks of Zac are actually easier to kill than an Anivia egg, and you do not get much health back, so do not rely on this to keep you in fights in the late game.
The other part to cell division is that Zac is able to recover 4% of his max health if he uses an ability to hit an enemy unit (champ or minion). You have to give Riot credit, they keep coming up with new innovations for us with each champion release. Unfortunately, I’m not as keen on this one as I was with Thresh’s souls. At the end of the day, if Thresh missed a soul or two he would still be ok. In Zac’s case, if you miss picking up even one of his gooey chunks, you will quickly find him low on health.
All of his abilities cost a percentage of his max health, and picking up pieces of him will only completely sustain his W. All of his other abilities cost more than 4%. I will explain later how this whole concept hurts Zac. What you should know for now is that the health chunks can travel a good distance away from Zac, and it can take serious time and effort to go and retrieve them. When you are in the middle of a big fight, or chasing down an enemy, you simply do not have the time or positioning to get to enough of the chunks to sustain yourself.
Stretching Strike (Q) : Zac’s arms reach out to smack opponents in a line. It has a respectable slow and damage with a low cooldown, making it very good for harassing an opponent in lane or catching them as they run away.
Unstable Matter : It seems like Riot’s plan to deal with the rise of health stacking is to continue to make champions that deal damage based on an opponents maximum health. Zac’s W does not disappoint. It’s range isn’t overly large but large enough to allow Zac to get in the middle of the enemy team and do some decent damage. It has a low cooldown, which makes it very tempting to spam this in fights.
Elastic Slingshot (E) : This will be one of the coolest dashes in the game. The only way I can think to describe it, using words, is to compare it to a mini Ziggs ult. Basically, Zac can launch himself over distances that no other champion can cover. Picture Zac standing against the wall in the Wraith camp. From there, he is capable of launching himself all the way into the mid lane brush. If that kind of leap doesn’t create some interesting gank opportunities I don’t know what will. Despite it’s seemingly awesome range, Riot has decided that some walls are too high for this move to clear, and Zac will simply fail to go over them. Some practice will be needed to identify these no fly zones.
My biggest problem with this ability is that, in its current PBE form, it is a bit tricky to use. Zac needs to be standing still to use it, and sometimes, it seems like even though you pressed S, or thought he had come to a complete stop, it fails to launch.
It also seems to be somewhat picky about where your cursor is when you initiate the move. If your cursor is outside of its range, maybe because you were thinking about jumping way down field, it seems to cancel the ability and put it on cooldown. I have found that the safest place to click is right in front of Zac in the direction you want to travel. Hopefully Riot makes this a little easier to use before the final release, or maybe Riot’s intention is that it should be used mainly to initiate and not to chase down opponents.
*UPDATE* Just found out that the distance you can travel (along with the time it takes to charge up to max range) increases with each point you put in this ability. I don’t think this will unlock any of the walls you couldn’t already jump, but it might be worth taking a look into. I would still imagine that you would max this last, as the range at level one is still pretty significant.
Let’s Bounce (R) : Sometimes, you just gotta bounce. When you do, you will be able to knock back enemies, slow them and increase your own movement speed. While in his ult form you are unable to cast his Q or E but can cast his W. This ult will be great at putting Zac in the middle of team fights, but can also be used to chase down opponents or skip out on a bad situation. The bounce mechanics of the ability mean you need to use some kind of anticipation of where you want to go because you can only change direction on each bounce. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but is not nearly as bad as his E can be.
Zac’s big problem: I kept hinting at this, so I decided to actually make it a section. Zac gets a lot of base health. He gets to around 3000 health with very little itemization. Zac has low cooldowns. Almost all of his abilities can be cast (at max CDR) in under 10 seconds, and his W can be spammed out every 2.4 seconds. The problem this creates, for Zac, is that he tends to go through his own health fairly quickly. As I mentioned above, his goo chunks only actually sustain his W and these chunks can be very hard to pick up in a fight.
There have been times on Zac when I have entered a fight with close to 5000 health and have managed to bleed myself down to a 1/5 simply by taking damage and cycling through my abilities a few times. I am not sure if Riot’s intentions are that you should show some restraint in how you use his abilities, or if it is expected that he operate at low health levels, but it seems strange to give a tank such low cooldowns that almost leave him unable to tank. If you are supposed to decide whether you want to deal damage or just be in the fight, then Riot has done their job perfectly. Otherwise, something will have to change for Zac to actually fulfill his tank role optimally.
Role: Zac will primarily be used in the jungle or top lane. His spells all have low base damages but decent utility which, to me, indicates that he will be a better tank than caster. In lane, his Q can give him decent poke and his W can chunk opponents in prolonged trades. Again, the problem is that you need to dedicate some time to going and getting your health chunks. He seems to be much safer in the jungle where his clear times are respectable, he has time to pick up his goo chunks and his E lets him, literally, fly into ganks. If Riot tinkers with how far his health chunks travel, I could see him doing better in the lane. In the jungle, try and stand next to the camp walls to limit the distance that the chunks can fly.
Countering Zac: Outlast him. If Zac wants to do damage to you he has to hurt himself to do it. If you are tanky enough, you should be able to easily outlast him unless Riot makes his sustain just a bit better. Watch out for him ganking you from areas beyond your wards. Think of him like a Jarvan who can actually still gank you after using his combo to enter your lane.
Zac Build: One word: health. The more you have, the bigger Zac gets. He also goes through it fast, so you want to have as large of a supply as possible. Spirit Visage will help you with his sustain and keeping his cooldowns low. In the jungle, Zac may be one of the few champs who will actually make good use of the Spirit of the Spectral Wraith. It lowers his cooldowns and provides him with some badly needed lifesteal. Stacking AP on him may be tempting, but his low ratios and base damages make this not an overly efficient use of your money.
Final thoughts: Zac is another example of Riot making champs better and more innovative. The health chunk idea, as flawed as it may currently be, is something we have not seen before. His E will allow you to sore over distances you never thought possible. The more health you build on Zac, the larger he gets. When he loses this health in combat, he shrinks. It is pretty cool to see Zac grow in the fountain as he heals. For me, a bigger champion always makes me feel a bit more confident, and Zac is perfect for that. A Zac with 4000 health is close to as big as Baron Nashor. Oh, and his auto attack animations are as smooth as any of the new champs.
Ultimately, if Riot doesn’t tinker around with how fast Zac bleeds out in fights, I don’t think Zac will make even as big of impact as Vi did when she came out. He is interesting, don’t get me wrong, but he does not fulfill his roles nearly as well as Vi does, even post nerfs.