Zz’rot Portal is an item that has been floating around and hasn’t seen very much play. It was massively buffed a month ago, but it still remains a fairly niche item that people are reluctant to build. I’m a big fan of janky builds, so I’ve been trying it on a lot of different champions (in different roles) with varying success.
I’ve found a lot of recent success building this on a select few top laners – namely the tanky split-pushers. I’ve played a lot of normals with a Zz’rot on tanky split pushers and did well enough to playtest it in ranked at Diamond level with Garen/Gangplank/Singed. The sample size is still small, but I’ve done well with a 3-1 record, with each win with Portal actually feeling incredibly solid overall.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons I feel Zz’rot works well with tanky split-pushers.
60 armor / 60 magic resist: This is probably pretty self-explanatory. It’s the item that gives you the most mixed-resistance in the game.
+100% Base Health Regen: Not exactly a game-changer, but keeping your hp up while you’re running around pressuring and tanking frontline for your team is always a good thing.
Grants +30% bonus movement speed that builds up over 2 seconds when near turrets (including fallen turrets) or Void Gates.
This is a passive that is deceptively good. Having 30% bonus movespeed that doesn’t break around every tower (including dead ones and your portal) is actually pretty incredible. Here’s a couple of reasons why:
- Tower diving is incredibly easy since you run so fast and it’s much harder to kite you (important since you’re typically playing a melee champ)
- If you’re pushing someone (or a team) in with a Portal, the increased ms makes it much harder to actually hit you with ranged skills and keeps people under pressure because you can space and control the zone around you much easier. This makes harassing people while they’re stuck under turret trying to hold it a lot easier.
- If you’re splitpushing and getting ganked, you’ll have 30% ms just by being around the portal you plopped down, and you’ll also gain ms as you run past back the dead turret. This makes tanky champs that already run fast like Gangplank/Garen/Singed a nightmare to chase. Being impossible to catch is critical for tanky split-pushers.
There’s a lot of uses for movespeed in general, but I’ll just cut it short here cause the bullet is already long enough.
The Active Voidspawns: Extensive discussion has already been had about how to use the Voidspawn Active in order to maximize your strategical advantage. For those interested in a basic primer on Voidspawn strategy, you can take a look at this great in-depth post about it.
I’m just going to cover how tanky split-pushers in general greatly benefit from these Voidspawns. First of all, the first and every fourth Voidspawn gain damage equal to 100% of your armor and 100% of your magic resist. Fairly self-explanatory, right? Tanky top laners that stack resists will have Voidspawns that deal the most damage. In a typical mid-game as Garen when I have around 3 full items, the Voidspawns can do up to 500~ damage. This only gets higher as the game goes on.
The Voidspawns also help tanky split-pushers in one area that they are generally mediocre at: actually taking towers. You’ll have those games where you’re built tanky, you’re at the enemy’s second turret, and you’re not far ahead enough to actually hit it during every wave while tanking the enemy laner and the turret. This results in you just walking around while the lane is pushed to their turret, but never doing much damage to the turret.
Voidspawns are fantastic here because they constantly hit the turret, and while you might not be far ahead enough to tank the enemy and the turret, you will generally be tanky enough to pressure and harass them while the Voidspawns do the work for you.
It also covers the situation where you’ve forced them back, or they teleported away and you want to deal as much damage as possible to the turrets / inhib. You can place the portal and then teleport after them if you’ve taken tp, or you can take as much of their base as possible, since a Zz’rot on a tanky champion makes quick work of structures.
Lots more could be said about Voidspawn strategy, but as I said, much of it is already covered in the guide I posted above. The main thing to take from this section is that tanks that stack resists have Voidspawn that deal the most damage, and that tanky splitpushers can cover a little bit of their weakness in taking towers by buying a Zz’rot.
Zz’rot Portal and Garen
I firmly believe that Garen is one of the best users of Zz’rot Portal as it is in its current state. He exemplifies the qualities I look for in a top laner that might want to use portal:
- Garen can be built incredibly tanky and still be a huge threat.
- His base damage is extremely high. I feel this is pretty crucial, as it’s nice to be tanky, but it’s also better to be tanky and still be a damage threat. His base damage with ignite/silence/spin/sunfire is very high, and the risk of an execute is always there as long as his ultimate is up. I take ignite and run 21/9/0 on every top laner I run Portal with, because almost everyone takes teleport and I can often force winning trades / fights / tower dives due to their lack of ignite. Getting ahead on a tanky split pusher that uses Zz’rot puts incredible pressure on the enemy team.
- Safe laning phase that allows him to build his core items, take the first turret, and then set up for mid-game and purchasing the Zz’rot.
- Splitpushes well. His movespeed is incredibly high, he’s VERY difficult to chase due to his tankiness and tenacity, and he always has the potential to simply turn the gank around and kill someone. His passive also affords him a unique benefit in being able to tank turret (so that Voids can hit them) and harass enemy champions under turret, and simply come back in 15 seconds at full hp again.
- As a bonus, Courage (Garen’s W) increases his bonus armor and magic resistance by 20%! Talk about synergy.
I think Zz’rot as a rush item is pretty garbage. Buying pure resistances (often when you only need one of the two) is usually a horrible idea for your laning phase. Zz’rot isn’t even very useful by that point since taking the first turret is pretty trivial. My core build path is almost always:
- Starting items (flask, cloth5, dshield, whatever)
- Bami’s Cinder
- Finish Sunfire, finish boots two (whatever order you want). I usually go Tabi here, but I’ll occasionally go Merc’s against ap top like Kennen)
- Zz’rot Portal
- General tank items (Thornmail, Visage, Randuins, Warmogs, etc)
The first question some might have is do I still go Sunfire against ap top? For me, I absolutely still go Sunfire. The health is great, regardless of if you’re against ap or ad, the burn helps you immensely when it comes to csing / pushing / damage in general trading and duels, and if you really need to, you can just buy a null-magic mantle (or two I guess..) with your ruby crystal and build it into Zz’rot or Merc Treads laters. This helps keep in line with the philosophy of tanky split-pushers that still have high base damage, and will ensure that your map pressure remains high.
After getting your tier two boots and Sunfire, you’re now ready to build a Zz’rot. By this time in the game, you’ll:
- Be at the second enemy turret (often the sticking point for many tanky split-pushers)
- Have enough hp to make resist stacking actually worthwhile
- Have some resists from levels, Sunfire, and tier 2 boots to make Voidspawn deal more damage
- Still be a damage threat due to your choice of high-base-damage champion and Sunfire rush
- Have an incredibly easy time farming up Zz’rot due to easy build path
Sunfire is a great core “foundation” item for tanky split pushers. It allows you to be tanky enough to shrug off damage, but still kill people by just sticking on them with your base damage. Since your tank/damage stats are solid and balanced at this point, you can now just build a Zz’rot to get even tankier, and increase your splitting pressure further. Needless to say, it also makes you a tanky monster in teamfights and lets you frontline for days.
So, hopefully I made my points clearly enough to show why tanky top lane split pushers benefit quite a lot from building Zz’rot Portal. Although theoretically any tanky top could build it, I feel that those with high base damage that can also run ignite stand in the position to benefit most from it. A disclaimer: this is more suited to a soloq environment where you’re looking to gain enough solo pressure to force objectives through your strength.
I feel as though the potential strategic implications of Zz’rot has been discussed fairly in-depth, but what was still lacking was an understanding of who could actually build it, and more specifically an item path that would actually allow you to fit in a Portal that was effective, efficient and not awkward.
I’m open for any questions, thoughts, or otherwise on what you feel about Zz’rot Portal. I’ve found something that works well for me, and I want to know if anyone has found another way to make this item worthwhile. I feel in general that Zz’rot is an incredibly under-explored item that is stronger than its use percentage indicates