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Kneel before Kel'Thuzad!

Damage (8/10) Utility (7/10) Survivability (4/10) Complexity (7/10)

Kel'Thuzad is a Ranged Assassin Hero from the Warcraft franchise.[1]


Kel'Thuzad has faithfully served the Lich King both in life and after death. Reanimated as the Archlich of the Scourge and given domain of the Dread Necropolis, Naxxramas, Kel’Thuzad remains Arthas’s most trusted advisor and master of the cold dark.

Archlich of Naxxramas, esteemed Lich Lord of the Plaguelands, Commander of the Dread Necropolis, Master and Founder of the Cult of the Damned, formerly of the Council of Six, Creator of the Abomination, Summoner of Archimonde the Defiler, Betrayer of Humanity, Hearthstone Enthusiast, and Majordomo to the Lich King, Kel’Thuzad.

Gameplay Summary

Kel'Thuzad is an Assassin with a gameplay that revolves around "combo abilities", in the same vein as characters like Kerrigan, Alarak and Kael'thas. He is capable of inflicting plenty of roots, slows and stun effects, as most of his abilities feature at least one form of crowd control.

His Trait, Master of the Cold Dark, grants him a massive powerspike once completed, allowing him to snowball the match if the quest is completed earlier. This makes Kel'Thuzad particularly valuable at participating in skirmishes, allowing him to complete the quest as soon as possible.

Overall, Kel'Thuzad fits in most team compositions, but excels in those with additional crowd control abilities that can synergize or complement his own, allowing him to unleash his true power.


  • Capable of setting up powerful crowd control chains.
  • Powerful burst damage through his ability combos.
  • Fits into most team composition, being able to adjusts his talents accordingly.
  • Master of the Cold Dark allows Kel'Thuzad to increase his power, and snowball the match once the quest is completed.
  • Death and Decay has extremely low cost and cooldown, being a versatile tool for waveclearing, poking and follow-up damage.
  • Frost Nova can secure takedowns if used properly, combining damage and utility.
  • Chains of Kel'Thuzad is a versatile, yet complex ability, that is the basis of Kel'Thuzad combos, capable of pulling enemies towards structures or each other.
  • Frost Blast's explosions covers a large radius, and can incapacitate an entire group when well timed.
  • Shadow Fissure is a very versatile Heroic Ability, as it has global range, very low cooldown, deals high damage, and is a powerful follow-up to Kel'Thuzad other abilities.


  • High skill ceiling, being difficult to master.
  • Requires proper setup to deal effective damage.
  • Most of his abilities have a delay before being cast, meaning the player must plan ahead so his enemies don't escape.
  • Awful durability (even supports with low damage, like Lt. Morales and Rehgar can kill him).
  • All his abilities (except for Frost Blast) are skillshots.
  • Vulnerable to dives and Melee Assassins, especially given his limited options for defensive talents.
  • Lacks self-peeling abilities to repel sticky opponents.
  • Not very efficient at solo laning.
  • Cannot deal well against opponents with high mobility, such as Tracer, that can easily dodge his skillshots.
  • Frost Blast can be completely negated by specific abilities, such as Crystal Aegis or Ice Block.


Icon Death and Decay.png
Death and Decay (Q)
Mana: 20
Cooldown: 6 seconds

After 0.5 seconds, launch an orb that explodes upon hitting an enemy, dealing 150 (+4% per level) damage to enemies in the area. The explosion leaves behind a pool of decay that lasts 2 seconds, dealing 70 (+4% per level) damage every 0.5 seconds to enemies.

Icon Frost Nova.png
Frost Nova (W)
Mana: 50
Cooldown: 10 seconds

Create a nova that explodes after 1 second, dealing 212 (+4% per level) damage to enemies inside and Slowing them by 35% for 2.5 seconds. Enemies in the center are Rooted for 1 second.

Icon Chains of KelThuzad.png
Chains of Kel'Thuzad (E)
Mana: 50
Cooldown: 12 seconds

Launch a chain, dealing 97 (+4% per level) damage to the first enemy Hero or Structure hit. For 4 seconds after hitting an enemy, Chains can be reactivated to launch to an additional enemy, pulling both enemies together and Stunning them for 0.5 seconds.


Icon Master of the Cold Dark.png
Master of the Cold Dark [Trait]

IconQuestTalent.png Quest: Gain 1 Blight every time a Hero is rooted by Frost Nova or Chains of Kel'Thuzad.
IconQuestTalent.png Reward: After gaining 15 Blight, the cooldown of all Basic Abilities is reduced by 2 seconds.
IconQuestTalent.png Reward: After gaining 30 Blight, gain 75% Spell Power.

Heroic Abilities

Icon Frost Blast.png
Frost Blast (R) [Heroic Ability]
Tier 4 (Hero Level 10)
Mana: 60
Cooldown: 70 seconds

Launch a meteor of ice at an enemy Hero. Upon impact, the meteor deals 100 (+4% per level) damage to its target and 275 (+4% per level) damage to enemies in the area. All enemies hit by Frozen Tomb are Rooted for 1.5 seconds.

Icon Shadow Fissure.png
Shadow Fissure (R) [Heroic Ability]
Tier 4 (Hero Level 10)
Mana: 60
Cooldown: 20 seconds

Create a fissure anywhere on the Battleground that explodes after 1.5 seconds, dealing 400 (+4% per level) damage to enemy Heroes in its area.


Tier 1, Hero Level 1

Icon Death and Decay.png
The Plaguelands
Tier 1 (Hero Level 1)

Increase Death and Decay’s duration by 1 second. After gaining 30 Blight, increase the radius of Death and Decay’s pool by 30%.

Icon Frost Nova.png
Blighted Frost
Tier 1 (Hero Level 1)

Frost Nova deals 50% more damage to enemies in the center. After gaining 30 Blight, increase Frost Nova’s Root duration by 0.5 seconds.

Icon Chains of KelThuzad.png
Barbed Chains
Tier 1 (Hero Level 1)

Increase Chains of Kel'Thuzad damage by 125%. After gaining 30 Blight, Chains of Kel’Thuzad reduces the Armor of pulled Heroes by 15 for 4 seconds.

Tier 2, Hero Level 4

Icon Phylactery.png
Phylactery of Kel'Thuzad
Tier 2 (Hero Level 4)

Kel’Thuzad heals for 10% of all Spell Damage dealt while the Phylactery is charged.

Passive: Kel'Thuzad heals for 10% of all Spell Damage dealt while the Phylactery is charged.

IconQuestTalent.png Quest: Collect 12 Regeneration Globes to charge Kel’Thuzad’s Phylactery.
IconQuestTalent.png Reward: Kel’Thuzad’s Phylactery can be activated while dead to immediately respawn at the Hall of Storms, but must be charged again.

Icon Chains of KelThuzad.png
Strip Shields
Tier 2 (Hero Level 4)

Pulling a Hero with Chains of Kel'Thuzad grants Kel’Thuzad a permanent 120 Shield, stacking up to 2 times. Additionally, Chains of Kel’Thuzad deals up to 270 bonus damage to Shields.

Icon Armor of the Archlich.png
Armor of the Archlich
Tier 2 (Hero Level 4)
Cooldown: 25 seconds

Activate to gain 50 Physical Armor for 4 seconds. Upon activation, nearby enemies take 45 damage and are Slowed by 35% for 4 seconds.

Tier 3, Hero Level 7

Icon Chilling Touch.png
Chilling Touch [Passive]
Tier 3 (Hero Level 7)

Every 8 seconds, Kel’Thuzad’s next Basic Attack hits nearby enemies, deals Spell damage instead of Physical, and Slows by 30% for 2 seconds.

Icon Death and Decay.png
Accelerated Decay
Tier 3 (Hero Level 7)

Each time a Hero is hit by Death and Decay’s pool, they take 25% more periodic damage from Death and Decay for the next 4 seconds, stacking up to 6 times.

Icon Glacial Spike.png
Glacial Spike
Tier 3 (Hero Level 7)
Cooldown: 30 seconds

Activate to create a spike that detonates after 4 seconds, dealing 60 (+4% per level) damage to nearby enemies. The spike can be affected by Chains of Kel'Thuzad.

Tier 4, Hero Level 10

Icon Frost Blast.png
Frost Blast (R) [Heroic Ability]
Tier 4 (Hero Level 10)
Mana: 60
Cooldown: 70 seconds

Launch a meteor of ice at an enemy Hero. Upon impact, the meteor deals 100 (+4% per level) damage to its target and 275 (+4% per level) damage to enemies in the area. All enemies hit by Frozen Tomb are Rooted for 1.5 seconds.

Icon Shadow Fissure.png
Shadow Fissure (R) [Heroic Ability]
Tier 4 (Hero Level 10)
Mana: 60
Cooldown: 20 seconds

Create a fissure anywhere on the Battleground that explodes after 1.5 seconds, dealing 400 (+4% per level) damage to enemy Heroes in its area.

Tier 5, Hero Level 13

Icon Frost Nova.png
Icy Grasp
Tier 5 (Hero Level 13)

Increase Frost Nova’s Slow duration by 2 seconds.

Icon Chains of KelThuzad.png
Chains of Ice
Tier 5 (Hero Level 13)

After Chains of Kel’Thuzad’s Stun expires, targets are Slowed by 60% for 1 second.

Icon Chains of KelThuzad.png
Tier 5 (Hero Level 13)

Pulling two Heroes together with Chains of Kel'Thuzad reduces its cooldown by 4 seconds and refunds its Mana cost.

Tier 6, Hero Level 16

Icon Power of Icecrown.png
Power of Icecrown [Passive]
Tier 6 (Hero Level 16)

Stunning, Rooting, or Slowing a Hero grants 6% Spell Power for 10 seconds, stacking up to 5 times.

Icon Frost Nova.png
Hungering Cold
Tier 6 (Hero Level 16)

Enemies Rooted by Frost Nova take an additional 55 (+4% per level) damage each time they are damaged by Kel’Thuzad during the next 4 seconds.

Icon Death and Decay.png
Arcane Echoes
Tier 6 (Hero Level 16)

Whenver Kel’Thuzad hits an enemy Hero with Death and Decay’s explosion, its cooldown is reduced by 1.25 seconds.

Tier 7, Hero Level 20

Icon Frost Blast.png
Tier 7 (Hero Level 20)

When Frost Blast’s Root expires, enemies are Slowed by 40% for 3 seconds. Heroes killed while under the effects of Frost Blast instantly release another Frost Blast explosion.

Icon Shadow Fissure.png
Might of the Scourge
Tier 7 (Hero Level 20)

Hitting an enemy Hero with Shadow Fissure resets its cooldown.

Icon Shifting Malice.png
Shifting Malice [Active]
Tier 7 (Hero Level 20)
Cooldown: 240 seconds

Activate to dash forward, dealing 150 damage to enemies in the path. Takedowns reset the cooldown of Shifting Malice.

Icon The Damned Return.png
The Damned Return [Active]
Tier 7 (Hero Level 20)
Cooldown: 15 seconds

Activate to create a Shade of Naxxramas that lasts 15 seconds and mimics Kel’Thuzad’s casts of Death and Decay.

Talent Builds




Kel'Thuzad is at his best when paired with any Hero that can setup and/or follow-up his ability combos; such as those with reliable crowd control abilities. This makes completing Master of the Cold Dark much faster. Most Warriors work very well with Kel'Thuzad, as they are often packed with a kit focused on crowd control and very needed peel for Kel'Thuzad, as his low health and lack of escape makes him an easy target.

Alarak and Kel’thuzad are both heroes who are great at capitalizing on the mistakes of their enemies. If an enemy hero steps slightly out of position, they can find themselves quickly pulled into the opposing team via Alarak’s Telekinesis, or pulled to their teammates with Kel’thuzad. Either way, once one of these paired heroes lands an ability on an enemy, the other one can quickly follow up, resulting in devastating damage or even a quick kill.

Kel’Thuzad shines the most when his enemies are grouped up so that he can land his devastating spell combos. Heroes like Arthas, who have strong crowd control abilities, are great for acting as a wall for Kel’Thuzad, as well as grouping up enemies so that he can perform at his best offensively.

The Butcherplate.png
Both The Butcher and Kel’thuzad are Heroes that can build up their power over the match and result in massive snowballing that gives opponents no chance to withstand them; if both Heroes complete their quest-traits (Fresh Meat and Master of the Cold Dark), the team obtains two huge powerspikes. The Butcher's ganking playstyle has great synergy with Kel'Thuzad combo-oriented skillshots: Ruthless Onslaught and Lamb to the Slaughter can and will give Kel'Thuzad enough time to unleash his barrage of abilities. Similarly, Kel'Thuzad's spike damage is more than enough for The Butcher to secure the kills and obtain more Fresh Meat.

ETC is a powerful Warrior for Heroes who need setup to land their combos. Since Kel’thuzad’s abilities can be hard to land in a vacuum, Heroes who are strong at grouping or isolating enemies are great when paired with him. Mosh Pit also synergizes particularly well with Kel’thuzad, as he can put out an incredible amount of damage when the enemies are unable to move; a well placed Frost Blast, for example, can setup the right opportunity for Mosh Pit, and vice-versa.

Being one of the sturdiest and durable Warriors in the game, Garrosh can easily capitalize on opponents mispositioning and put them in a favorable spot for Kel'Thuzad's abilities to hit. If well coordinated, Garrosh can use Wrecking Ball to throw opponents into each other close enough for Kel'Thuzad to hit with Chains of Kel'Thuzad; Garrosh can also throw them directly at Glacial Spike, to ensure they will be close when it explodes. Additionally, if given the opportunity, Garrosh's Warlord's Challenge can incapacitate an entire team long enough for Kel'Thuzad to strike.

Similarly to Arthas, Johanna can provide much needed peeling and crowd control so Kel'Thuzad can efficiently land his skillshots, being able to efficiently group them together using Condemn. Johanna is particularly more useful than Arthas in this case, as she can prevent strong divers, such as Illidan, from sticking on Kel'Thuzad, mostly thanks to her Shield Glare.

Valeera's ganking potential can easily open opportunities for Kel'Thuzad to strike, as well aiding against other opponents trying to gank him. Similarly, if Kel'Thuzad manages to trap his opponents in a barrage of abilities, Valeera can quickly follow up.

Varian's aggressive playstyle, combined with flexibility in combat, allows him to adjust his talents to suit the best situation for Kel'Thuzad. However, the favorable build is usually going full tank, as Taunt is great at securing takedowns, especially given its low cooldown. On the other hand, picking Colossus Smash can be useful to eliminate specific key-targets alongside Kel'Thuzad.

Xul can provide a solid frontline in the form of his debuffs, with Cursed Strikes (and many of its talents) and Skeletal Mages. However, Xul's synergy with Kel'Thuzad lies with Bone Prison, which, once cast, will give Kel'Thuzad enough time to prepare his combos as soon the opponent is rooted.

Effective against

While Kel'Thuzad becomes a threat to the entire enemy team once Master of the Cold Dark, he can be even more dangerous when capitalizing on Heroes with poor mobility and/or lack of spell damage mitigation. He also excels when fighting opponents that can summon clones, as they can "feed" him stacks of his trait, and become targets for Chains of Kel'Thuzad.

Although Abathur will rarely be in direct contact with the enemy team, Kel'Thuzad can easily capitalize on his stationary gameplay and lack of mobility if given chance. Additionally, Shadow Fissure's low cooldown, high damage and global range means he can easily hit Abathur while the same is busy with other tasks, especially during Symbiote. To add more salt to the wound, should Kel'Thuzad pick Might of the Scourge, he can harass Abathur over and over to score easy takedowns.

Rexxar is pretty much two heroes in one, as he is always accompanied by Misha. Because of that, both of them become easier targets for Chains of Kel'Thuzad, therefore using their greatest strength against themselves. Additionally, this aids Kel'Thuzad in completing his trait quest, Master of the Cold Dark.

While Samuro himself is a counter to Kel'Thuzad (since his slippery nature makes easy to dodge Kel'Thuzad skillshots and easily gank him), his Mirror Image can actually aid Kel'Thuzad into completing Master of the Cold Dark by exploiting the clones' AI. Additionally, Chains of Kel'Thuzad can be used to pin down the clones to Samuro himself or even other Heroes.

Stukov gameplay style of spreading Healing Pathogen requires allies to stay relatively close to each other, something that Kel'Thuzad can easily take advantage of. Kel'Thuzad can also hit Stukov with Chains of Kel'Thuzad and Frost Nova while he channels Lurking Arm or pushes someone with Massive Shove, two abilities that put him in a stationary state, leaving him extremely vulnerable.

Effective foes

Kel'Thuzad's greatest weakness is the fact nearly all his abilities (except for Frost Blast) are skillshots that require pinpoint accuracy. Therefore, he performs poorly against Heroes with high mobility that can easily dodge his Abilities. Also, Kel'Thuzad's low health and lack of escape and self-peel makes him an easy target to gankers and divers, particularly Stealth-based Heroes.

Anub'arak’s innate spell-armor, combined with all the right tools to deal with "mages", can easily prevent Kel'Thuzad from unleashing his true potential. A well timed Cocoon can easily secure Kel'Thuzad's demise.

Chen's high mobility, combined with his powerful shields provided by Fortifying Brew, allows him to pressure Kel'Thuzad and either dodge or soak his damage (although Kel'Thuzad can actually exploit Chen while he channels his brew and gain easy stacks of Master of the Cold Dark). Both of Chen's Heroic Abilities are effective against Kel'Thuzad, with Wandering Keg being particularly more dangerous due him becoming unstoppable.

Genji has one of highest mobilities in the game, packed with a powerful kit capable of both poking and executing Kel'Thuzad. In addition, Genji can prevent Frost Blast with a well timed X-Strike.

Illidan high mobility can make difficulty for Kel'Thuzad to hit him with any of his abilities. In addition, Illidan can prevent Frost Blast with a well timed Metamorphosis.

Li-Ming’s high mobility and heavy burst combined can be a nightmare for Kel’Thuzad to deal with. She out-pokes and out-ranges him, as well being a large enough threat that if he stands still for any length of time to try to land his abilities, he risks taking heavy damage.

Kel'Thuzad can be hard to takedown if he has both a solid frontline and backline to protect him. Nova can take advantage of her stealth and range to poke Kel'Thuzad from afar even if he tries to escape.

While Kel'Thuzad can exploit Samuro's Mirror Images to complete Master of the Cold Dark faster, the Blademaster can take advantage of his clones and strike Kel'Thuzad while he wastes his cooldowns on his clones. In addition, Bladestorm makes Samuro unstoppable, preventing him from being slowed by Kel'Thuzad.

Landing Chains of Kel'Thuzad can be hard enough on its own, and becomes nearly impossible against someone like Tracer, because even if he can connect the first hit, it’s that much harder to land the second one with her zipping around. Additionally, Tracer can completely negate Frost Blast using Recall.

Kel’Thuzad is all about heavy crowd control combined with high burst damage. Uther is able to mitigate burst damage by adding Armor to his allies (thanks to Eternal Devotion), and has strong anti crowd control talents that he can access to fairly early in the game, which combined can completely ruin what would otherwise be a great setup for Kel’Thuzad.

Valeera's ganking potential can easily take an unsuspecting Kel'Thuzad by surprise, with stuns and silences.

Similarly to Valeera, Zeratul can gank Kel'Thuzad with high burst damage. In addition, Void Prison can either incapacitate Kel'Thuzad or even save Zeratul's own team mates from the Archlich lethal combos.


Archlich of Naxxramas (base)
KelThuzad - Archlich.jpg KelThuzad - Archlich - Northrend.jpg KelThuzad - Archlich - Scourge.jpg KelThuzad - Archlich - Blightlord.jpg
Archlich of Naxxramas Northrend Scourge Blightlord IconShard.png 150
KelThuzad - Archlich - Naxxramas.jpg
Naxxramas Kel'Thuzad IconShard.png 150
Star Lich IconShard.png 600
What the heroes of this pitiful blue marble fail to understand is the Earth's fate cannot be delayed forever. In the end, the stars will fade and die, and in the cold dark... Our empire is eternal.
This skin is related to the Eternal Empire themed-skins. Features altered voice-over and themed abilities.
KelThuzad - Star Lich.jpg KelThuzad - Star Lich - Eternal.jpg KelThuzad - Star Lich - Frost.jpg KelThuzad - Star Lich - Hunter.jpg
Star Lich Eternal Frost Hunter
KelThuzad - Star Lich - Neutron.jpg


An early model for Kel'Thuzad

Kel'Thuzad was under consideration for inclusion as early as 2011.[2] He was reguarly the most requested hero from players in censuses undertaken by Blizzard Entertainment.[3] His model was previewed at BlizzCon 2014.[1] Work began on him in January 2017.[4] The "paper design" phase ended on January 30, ahead of schedule.[5]

Kel'Thuzad's abilities are themed around frost and shadow magic, rather than necromancy.[4]


  • Similarly to Leoric's "Space Lord" skin, Kel'Thuzad's Star Lich skin is a satire to Darth Sidious from Star Wars. This is evident with the different voice lines that makes analogy to the series.

Patch changes


  1. 1.0 1.1 2015-11-08, Kel'Thuzad Model. Twitter, accessed on 2015-05-01
  2. 2001-10-23, BlizzCon 2011 - Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm and Blizzard DOTA - Art & Technology Panel (Full). YouTube, accessed on 2011-11-07
  3. 2017-09-10, Resurrecting Kel’Thuzad: Honoring a Legacy – Heroes of the Storm. YouTube, accessed on 2017-09-10
  4. 4.0 4.1 2017-08-24, GamesCom 2017 Heroes of the Storm Kel'Thuzad Interview. YouTube, accessed on 2017-08-26
  5. 2017-08-29, Resurrecting Kel’Thuzad: Paper to Pixel – Heroes of the Storm. YouTube, accessed on 2017-09-10

External links