Fans were surprised by the first week of the 2023 LEC Winter Split, and it's that the meta launched just before the start of the League of Legends 2023 season is extremely volatile and rewarding players for sticking to unconventional strategies.
On the final day of the Winter Split's first week, G2 Esports attempted to win their third game by soaring past Astralis. While Astralis' draft included meta options like Aatrox, Caitlyn, and Lux, G2 went in a completely different direction, renewing the power of Kindred jungle and, most surprising, handing Caps full-AP mid lane Zac.
The Secret Weapon's popularity has increased significantly over the past year as players discover new opportunities for him to play other roles than his intended jungle role. At the 2022 World Championship, Saigon Buffalo's mid laner Froggy explored both an AP/tank set and a simple tank build, achieving one victory and one defeat.
Caps' decision to include Zac in the matchup while many of his more comfortable champion picks were available was immediately enthralling to fans. He quickly demonstrated the champion's potential by taking complete command of the matchup against Dajor's Sylas.
Here's an analysis of Caps' AP Zac mid build and its performance alongside his team.
AP Zac mid runes for the Caps.
Conqueror: Zac's preferred keystone in most situations, even if it's not played in the mid lane, works exceptionally well when he chooses a full-AP build. This means that he will always be the one engaging on enemy champions and thus the center of attention, since the longer he's in these skirmishes, the more he heals the damage he causes.
Triumph: Like Conqueror, Triumph rewards Zac for retaliating against and around his opponents. Not only does this rune give Zac a decent portion of his HP back upon a takedown, but it also grants him an additional 20 gold, which can often be the difference between purchasing an item component or complete item without having to rely on an extra wave.
Crow Control is one of Zac's major threats to his enormous mobility potential, and it is sometimes the only way to keep the Secret Weapon from snowballing a game. Taking Legend: Tenacity gives Zac much-needed tenacity per kill, which reduces the effectiveness of interruptions.
Zac may have many options to heal himself, but being such a large target will undoubtedly result in him falling into a state of disinterest in many fights, particularly if he foregoes crafting tank items. Fortunately, Last Stand allows Zac to capitalize on these risky moments with extra damage, but it doesn't always work efficiently due to Zac's ability to constantly regenerate.
Second Wind: This rune works better when Zac is surrounded by a large group of enemies. Should he join an entire enemy team, Second Wind will provide healing based on the damage each individual opponent has done to him, gradually restoring his HP.
Revitalize: Zac loves the healing that Revitalize provides regardless of the build he chooses. Since Zac can heal himself by picking up blobs that he drops when he uses his abilities, Revitalize makes it so that this healing grows in power. When combined with the other runes in this build, Zac has enough health and regeneration to last long battles.
Bonuses include: +8 ability haste, +8 magic resist, and +15-140 health (based on level)
Build and gameplay of AP Zac is explained by Caps.
The most famous item in Caps' AP Zac build is Demonic Embrace. This item, which includes a tremendous amount of health, ability power, additional health bonuses, and the ability to burn surrounding enemies in combat, has allowed champions like Zac and Maokai to dominate the start of the season.
Caps' build may be noticed by fans as he completed three complete items—all of which are quite costly—within the span of 25 minutes. This mainly came from the partnership between him and his jungler, Yike, who acted as an anchor every time that Astralis thought they had caught Caps out of position. Yike appeared from the brush to ensure that the mid-laner maintained a solid lead that remained unmatched throughout the game.
Although getting a lead this strong so early into the game might be difficult for most players who are attempting this strategy in a solo queue, players should keep in mind that this Zac build only becomes stronger as the champion adds more items to his build. Should Caps have added items like a Rabadon Deathcap or even a Sunfire Aegis to his build, he would have likely removed squishier opponents quicker than he was.
The main reason for this Zac build to be so powerful is its roaming ability. When combined with the extra damage caused by his AP-centric items, Zac can take care of those he ganks without needing the assistance of that lane's player on many occasions. Particularly by heading to the top lane where he was crucial in making sure BrokenBlade's unorthodox Karma pick didn't fall too far behind.
Should players choose to emulate the excellent AP Zac mid pick that earned Caps and the rest of G2 a victory this past weekend, they should keep in mind how powerful Zac can be outside the mid lane. Even a simple move near the Rift Herald or dragon pit can be enough to completely knock the opponent off and build your own substantial advantage, whether that be physically or mentally.