There seems to be no shortage of marksmen that make exceptional off-meta mid laners. And just like AP Varus and AP Ezreal, AP Zeri can one-shot enemies with her W!
This post will be a dedicated guide on how AP Zeri works. Here I’ll talk about Zeri’s abilities and damage numbers, how to play her in all stages of the game, her counters and synergies, and the runes and items you’re going to need.
So by the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to jump into a game and have fun with mid lane AP Zeri in season 12 of LoL!
Use the Table of Contents below to navigate through the post (it’s a long one!).
Table of Contents
Is Zeri AP or AD in LoL?
Riot Games designed Zeri to be an AD marksman and deal physical damage. However, Zeri also scales with AP and deals magic damage with her passive auto-attack (90% AP), W (60% AP), and R (80% AP) abilities. So, Zeri can either be AD or AP, depending on your preference and playstyle.
So, Zeri can either go AD or AP. Currently, the ADC Zeri is “meta” and most players go for that build. But some opt for AP Zeri since it’s a very fun build to play.
Like many other hybrid marksmen in League of Legends, AP Zeri’s playstyle is similar to AP Kog’Maw, for example. AP Zeri is a poking machine, able to shred 100% of her target’s health with her W while staying safe behind a wall.
On the other hand, AD Zeri is all about dealing consistent damage. As an ADC, her biggest damage source is auto-attacking. And when paired with enchanter support, AD Zeri can run around and deal damage for hours.
But when you build AP on Zeri, your playstyle changes a lot. And even though your auto-attacks remain a relevant source of damage, your primary sources are W and R.
Zeri’s W – Ultrashock Laser is a long-ranged ability that extends its range when used through a terrain. And Zeri’s R is a large AoE effect that deals damage to all enemies around Zeri.
Both abilities have a high AP ratio and their damage is magic, not physical. This makes AP Zeri a viable pick in LoL!
Now, let’s talk about runes and items!
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AP Zeri S12 Build – Runes
- First Strike
- Magical Footwear
- Future’s Market
- Velocity Approach
- Eyeball Collection
- Treasure Hunter
FIRST STRIKE is an offensive keystone that works very well on poking champions, including AP Zeri. And here’s how it works.
If you’re the one initiating the fight, First Strike will allow you to do 10% more damage to your target for 3 seconds. After that, it rewards you with bonus gold based on how much damage you’ve done during those 3 seconds.
In other words, you can get more gold while safely poking your opponents and even one-shot them if you quickly get into melee range and use your R after the W poke.
MAGICAL FOOTWEAR is a very convenient rune for scaling champions. It gives you Boots of Speed for free after 12 minutes which you can later upgrade. However, you can receive your boots even earlier by scoring more champion takedowns.
FUTURE’S MARKET is another rune that’s great for scaling and powering up. Basically, it allows you to go into debt and buy items even when you don’t have enough gold to buy them.
For example, if you have 800 gold at the moment and you need 1050 to complete Luden’s Tempest, Future’s Market will allow you to get your item anyway.
The debt limit is small at the beginning but it increases as the game goes on.
APPROACH VELOCITY is a very useful rune for playing AP Zeri. It gives you a movement speed bonus when you’re moving towards an enemy champion that’s already in crowd control.
But Velocity Approach also synergizes with Zeri’s W. So when you poke an enemy champion from range with Ultrashock Laser, this rune will get you in range for your auto-attacks more quickly.
EYEBALL COLLECTION is the perfect rune for increasing your AP during the early and mid game.
It passively gives you AP as you’re progressing through the laning phase, amounting to 30 AP in total.
TREASURE HUNTER is an underused rune in League of Legends but it works fantastically well on AP Zeri. It synergizes with your keystone First Strike and your Future’s Market rune too.
What Treasure Hunter does is that it gives you bonus gold when upon a champion takedown. And the more stacks you have (max 5), the more bonus gold you get.
These three runes allow you to buy your core items very quickly, so they’re awesome!
- Read Also: Full AP Lucian Build – Complete LoL Guide (Master)
AP Zeri Season 12 Build – Items
- Sorcerer’s Shoes
- Manamune / Muramana
- Luden’s Tempest
- Nashor’s Tooth
- Horizon Focus
- Rabadon’s Deathcap
Manamune / Muramana
MANAMUNE / MURAMANA is the first item you need to get on this champion, even with this AP build. Manamune is a fantastic early game item that makes Zeri’s laning phase not only viable but super strong too.
Manamune gives you a ton of bonus mana as well as AD. This means that you should either start the game with Tear of the Goddess or purchase one as early as possible.
SORCERER’S SHOES is the second purchase you should go for on AP Zeri. Normally, I’d suggest you get Sorcerer’s Shoes as soon as you receive your free boots.
Bonus movement speed is really great on Zeri, so prioritize these shoes!
LUDEN’S TEMPEST is the mythic item that synergizes the most with AP Zeri. And it’s ideal for any poking champion that looks to one-shot enemies before the fight even starts.
Luden’s Tempest offers tons of great stats but it also helps with Zeri’s initial damage. The passive even spreads to nearby enemies, allowing Zeri to do more damage for the rest of the game.
NASHOR’S TOOTH is one item in this build that could be replaced based on your preference. It gives a lot of AP and attack speed which works very well on Zeri, bringing her playstyle closer to that of an ADC.
However, not all mage players in LoL enjoy that. And most people that like to play AP Zeri only want to poke.
So, my advice is to build Nashor’s Tooth if you want to do more consistent damage. But if you only want to one-shot, go for one of the optional items below.
HORIZON FOCUS, on the other hand, is a must-have item for AP Zeri in my opinion. It has amazing synergy with your keystone First Strike. And together, both effects allow you to deal 20% increased damage for a few seconds.
Horizon Focus is also a good item for bursting down a target. It improves your initial hit, so you’ll strike harder with Zeri’s W.
RABADON’S DEATHCAP is the best item you can get for increasing your damage in the later stages of the match. With 120 bonus ability power and a 35% AP increase, Zeri’s magic damage will go off the rails.
Honestly, full AP Zeri in the late game is almost impossible to stop. Especially if the player is being smart and accurate with their skill shots!
- Read Also: Full AP Ashe Build – Complete Guide (Master)
Optional and Situational items for AP Zeri
But there are tons of other items that work well on AP Zeri too.
For example, Void Staff and Demonic Embrace might be must-have items if you’re facing multiple tanks and they build a lot of magic penetration.
Similarly, items like Shadowflame and Morellonomion can help you counter shields and defeat healing champions in League.
In the end, defensive items such as Zhonya’s Hourglass and Banshee’s Veil should always be considered, especially when you’re playing against assassins.
- Read Also: AP Tristana Build: Runes, Items, Tips (Master Guide)
Skill Order and Summoner’s Spells
When it comes to skill order, AP Zeri is a bit different than AD Zeri. You first want to max out your W since that’s the primary source of your damage. You then want to level up your E since it helps out a lot with moving around the map.
But here’s a complete level-by-level guide for maxing out Zeri’s abilities in-game.
For Summoner’s Spells, you have a couple of different combinations you can take.
Here they are.
Flash + Heal – your standard combo for bot lane AP Zeri.
Flash + Cleanse – the best combination for counter teams with a lot of crowd control.
Flash + Exhaust – great for countering assassins.
Flash + Teleport – recommended for mid lane Zeri.
Flash + Ghost – very useful for kiting in team fights.
How to Play AP Zeri? (Complete In-depth Guide)
Each game with AP Zeri starts off very slowly. You don’t have a choice of which ability to pick on level 1 so you’re stuck with your Q which is mostly an auto-attack replacement.
Once you unlock Zeri’s W, the laning phase has another goal. You should always try to hide behind walls and use Ultrashock Laser to poke your lane opponent. Zeri’s W does a lot of damage even on level 2, so don’t be hesitant to use it.
Also, take a look at the image above to see the points from which you can use Ultrashock Laser in the mid lane. Here I’ve marked the spots from where you can surprise your lane opponent or simply clear the minion wave. Of course, the red line doesn’t show the exact range of the ability but only the direction.
If you manage to hit your enemy two or three times with Ultrashock Laser, you can go all-in and finish them off. And to be successful, make sure your auto-attack is fully charged so you do tons of extra damage.
But if your lane opponent is smart or successfully dodges your lasers, you can simply calm down and play for the farm. You don’t want to miss out on too many minions and delay your mid game power spike simply because you wanted to poke a bit.
Zeri’s farming can sometimes be underwhelming, but by spamming Q you can make it a bit less so.
Lastly, you should always be aware of where your jungler is and whether you can help them or not. Zeri’s damage can be really surprising, especially if you cast your W from “weird” angles. So, definitely be on the lookout!
- Read Also: AP Kai’Sa Build – In-Depth Guide for Climbing (Master)
The mid game is when the magic happens for AP Zeri. This is the time when you have Manamune and Luden’s Tempest completed, as well as Sorcerer’s Shoes.
With these three items in the inventory, AP Zeri can almost one-shot a squishy enemy. And if she doesn’t, she can always jump in and finish the job with her ultimate – Lightning Crash.
But, let’s back up a bit.
In the mid game, the goal of AP Zeri is to make stuff happen. And by this, I simply mean that you should constantly be poking enemies, ganking lanes, and trying to set up as many kills as possible for you and your team.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize that this isn’t a hard thing to do. Zeri is a relatively safe champion and you can almost always get out of a bad situation, especially if you’re running Cleanse.
For example, you can always try to gank the bot lane and cast your Ultrashock Laser through the walls. But if the enemy jungler and mid laner come for you, simply use your E to jump across the terrain.
So, what do I mean by all of this?
When the mid game arrives and you have two or three items in your inventory, it’s time to play much more aggressively.
Your success will often be determined by how well you aim Zeri’s W. But if you manage to hit your opponents once or twice, especially around objectives such as Dragon or Rift Herald, you’ll probably secure it for your team.
And that’s how you create an advantage with AP Zeri in the mid game!
- Read Also: AP Senna Build Guide – On-Hit Magic Damage Senna
Late game is when AP Zeri is the most powerful. This is the time when you actually get to see how broken Zeri’s magic damage is, so it’s also the most fun part of each game.
Your job in the late game is to do as much poke damage as possible. Your team will likely play around you, especially when objectives such as Baron Nashor are up.
During this time, all you need to do is hide behind walls and spam your W. Ultrashock Laser will get to a point where the cooldown will be around 5 seconds. And its damage will reach over 1000!
In reality, you’ll actually need to hit Zeri’s W once or twice before the enemy team will be forced to go back, so it’s important to sit up and focus.
However, don’t dive deep into the enemy jungle without vision! One of the biggest mistakes you can do is hide behind walls while the area is warded. By doing that you’re making it very easy for your opponents to gank you and gain advantages of your team.
So, switch your trinket to Oracle Lens and buy Control Wards if you have an available slot in your inventory. It really pays out!
And my last advice for you is to swap one of your damage items for Zhonya’s Hourglass. This will a must-have item if you’re the only carry in your team and if your opponents have assassins like Zed.
Counters and Synergies for AP Zeri
Before you actually play AP Zeri, it’s important to know which champions are your threats and which go especially well with your kit. So, here are my tips!
Mid Lane Counters
Since Zeri was originally designed to be a bot laner and not a mid laner, some mid lane matchups can be extremely harmful for her.
Here are Zeri’s biggest counters in the mid lane:
- Zed – is an extremely efficient assassin that can dodge your damage and one-shot you at any time.
- Zilean – completely counters Zeri’s one-shot playstyle by speeding up allied champions so they dodge her damage and also reviving them if they get slain.
- Swain – is too difficult to take down in a 1v1 fight simply because of how tanky he is. He also makes it tough for you to farm during the laning phase.
- Kassadin – scales insanely well in the late game and it’s impossible to catch up to him once he gets to level 6. He takes less magic damage too.
- Kayle – another late game champion that can easily avoid your damage and stop you from slaying an enemy.
Note that it’s not impossible to win games against these champions. You simply need to be a lot smarter about your game plan.
For example, you can prioritize Zhonya’s Hourglass against Zed and Morellonomicon against Swain. However, you can also practice and improve your aim for the other champions too.
Bot Lane Counters
If you decide to play AP Zeri in the bot lane, here are the counters you need to be aware of:
- Samira – blocks your W and has an insanely powerful all-in with AoE damage and healing.
- Sivir – blocks your W as well and can speed up her allies so they dodge your damage or engage.
- Vayne – has a very short cooldown on her tumble and can avoid each of your Ultrashock Lasers.
- Twitch – can engage from invisibility and make it difficult for you to play aggressively once the laning phase is over.
- Tahm Kench – is the worst support counter for Zeri because he can save his allies by swallowing them up and giving them shields.
The Best Duo Champions for AP Zeri
Here I will combine the best partners for AP Zeri in League of Legends for both mid and bot lane. Here they are:
- Trundle – can tank everyone for you, create a Pillar of Ice that works together with Zeri’s W, and even slow enemies so you can hit them.
- Amumu – offers a lot of crowd control and can line enemies perfectly for your Ultrashock Laser.
- Sejuani – can help you a lot by constantly stunning your enemies and absorbing a lot of damage.
- Morgana – has an amazing Q that roots enemies for up to 3 seconds which allows you to aim your W.
- Taric – can be an extremely protective champion and save you from certain death.
Playing AP Zeri is all about having fun. And even though you can carry high elo games with AP Zeri, this playstyle is fun to play at all times! I’m the type of person that loves the poking playstyle in LoL, so I love playing this build!
If you’re struggling to learn AP Zeri, I strongly suggest you watch this Pekinwoof’s YouTube video. He was one of the first people to play AP Zeri in the mid lane and he can teach you a lot. So, trust me, visit his channel and you won’t regret it!
And if you didn’t know, I do guides on most off-meta ADC champions in League of Legends. I have an in-depth guide on AP Twitch as well as AP Jhin. You’re welcome to check them out!
- Read Also: AD Kennen Build – Complete Guide for ADC Kennen
Riot Games designed Zeri to be an AD marksman and deal physical damage. However, Zeri also scales with AP and deals magic damage with her passive auto-attack (60% AP), W (40% AP), and R (80% AP) abilities. So, Zeri can either be AD or AP, depending on your preference and playstyle.
Zeri has recently taken to the AP build like a storm, and just like Kai'Sa, is abusing her W ability. however, unlike Kai'Sa, Zeri's W scales with AP and AD alike, both having a good scaling rate, making Zeri useful even if an enemy comes close.
Item Build. Morello's and Hand of Justice are Zeri's two best items. | Provided by Warren Younger/Tiermaker. Zeri's optimal items are very weird.
Zeri's main runes should always be Precision runes.
Nashor's is a must-build item for AP Zeri, otherwise her Q — which is her main source of damage — won't even tickle her opponents.
Nashor's Tooth will also be really strong on Zeri and will probably fit into almost any build.
Dash-heavy AD carry Zeri has been buffed or nerfed a whopping 12 times across just nine League of Legends updates since her Summoner's Rift arrival in January this year as Riot Games struggles to fit her into the Season 12 meta.
Zeri's awesome late game is returned with a very poor early game where you feel like you are just shooting rubber pellets at the enemy team. This is essentially due to having the 5th lowest scaling base AD alongside with a fairly low base.
She is a Marksman who will be predominantly played in the bottom lane. Zeri has an interesting concept with many tools older champions would literally die for! She has lots of mobility, lots of damage, and has a large AOE on her Ultimate!
It also states that Zeri is approximately 22-27 years old. Her biography extensively mentions her mother and her grandmother and Riot Games calls her a “young woman.” With these details, one can be sure that the approximation of her age could be correct.
Zeri is also confirmed to be an AD carry champion, with Ekko as a related champion in her biography.
Why This GRANDMASTER is Playing ZERI JUNGLE - YouTube
The Triforce build is by far the best one out of all. The item's passive transforms Zeri into a late-game juggernaut. However, the late-game prowess isn't the only reason that this build has seen such widespread success through and through.
Passive: Zeri's basic attack deals magic damage, scales with AP, and is treated as an ability.
Tri-Force is such a great item for several reasons. Spellblade can be proc'd really easily, as auto attacking counts as an ability, which means the only real cooldown in between empowered Qs is the 1.5s cooldown on Spellblade.