Master Yi Build Guide by Skaeling
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Master Yi Build
No blue / Farmer
Typical build path
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
This is the ultimate Master Yi guide. The build is so strong, your enemies will rage-quit mostly, or blame Rito and God for it's existence..............................
Welcome to my guide mortals. The purpose of this guide is to present an unorthodox Master Yi build and playstyle. This guide used to be called "Hydra Style", but unfortunately that superb build path is no longer viable this season. I was trying countless builds after the meta rework, but somehow they were all lackluster for diamond elo. To my great excitement, Feral Flare was introduced not long ago, opening a whole new horizon - bruiser jungle Yi!
As I was inspecting this item, and trying to figure out how the bonus scaling could be used, I noticed that while the damage component is reduced versus champions, the heal is not. In other words the 10hp on hit effect can be multiplied manifold during a game, achieving ridiculous healing with some farming. Combining this with Spirit Visage, Meditate, high resistances and another lifesteal item means that he is one tough bruiser to kill.
|Master Yi used to be a mindless hack and slash character, best built as a glass cannon, and played berserker style. But now I find, that he does so much sustained damage and healing, that if he can't be destroyed immediately, he will just shred the entire enemy team. This is where the bruiser build idea comes from. He will still deal the same damage, just slightly more slowly, and stay alive more that glasscannon Yi, so that he can push turrets and inhibitors after a carnage.|
: Great mastery, considering Yi deals a lot more damage than he takes.
Sorcery : 1% CDR is more valuable than 1% attack speed.
Butcher : Good synergy with attack speed
Expose Weakness : Works for the team (including you), even in the jungle.
Feast: Good sustain option
Why not go deeper in the Offense tree? Brute Force is laughable (0.5 AD/lvl for 3 points), and the 4 flat AD from Martial Mastery quickly becomes meaningless while you level in the jungle. Warlord is another useless noobtrap, maybe efficient after 500AD. Executioner , Devastating Strikes and Frenzy are wasted in the early parts of the game while you farm the jungle. The simple reasoning behind all this is that early game Yi needs to farm in the jungle, one because he would lose early fights anyway, and two he is taken for his awesome scaling with levels and items. Utility is much more suited for this mentality.
Less jungle damage - better sustain.
Although Yi has a relatively high base hp and a good scaling on it, we don't have any flat resist early on - and Meditate is only maxed second after Alpha Strike, so it is better to be careful early. However, the scaling resists, combined with some early HP buys can make him very tough. High resists make healing (lifesteal or meditate) and bonus hp more useful.
Very useful for making tight escapes, like surprise splitpushing.
Fleet of Foot Any movement speed is welcome on a meelee adc, so we can keep attacking even if the target runs.
Scout I like this option, if you don't, spend it on Wealth for a Stealth Ward (with 4 potis) for higher level matches where early vision is survival.
Summoner's Insight Faster Smite and a spell of choice.
Alchemist + Culinary Master These two op masteries make a 150hp/15 sec potion into a 20+165hp/16.5 sec sweetie. For 5 potis we get an extra 175 hp and 50 mana. In addition the instant 20 hp can sometimes change the outcome of a fight.
Vampirism Even more sustain
Greed Pretty useful, but not so essential - manaregen can be a replacement.
Runic Affinity Longer buffs.
Intelligence Invaluable CDR, and reduces the cooldown of Tiamat.
Wanderer Makes for faster Wandering in the jungle.
|Greater Mark of Attack Speed The attack speed marks are simply the best right now. Gold efficient early on, and still scales into lategame. Acts as CDR for Alpha Strike.|
|Greater Seal of Scaling Armor Since flat armor got nerfed, and starting base values were raised, there is no point in taking flat armor yellows. Makes all HP you buy more efficient. HP/lvl is a decent alternative.|
|Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist If magic damage is not a threat early on (which is mostly the case if you jungle), get scaling magic resist. However you can mix in CDR glyphs if magic damage is not an issue.|
|Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed These runes were recently buffed to the AS marks' level, super good choices as well. Movespeed would be a decent alternative. Lifesteal got nerfed, and gold runes got irrelevant since everyone farms the jungle like crazy.|
If you want to mix in armor penetration, replace some marks, since quints are weaker.
|Smite A must have for any jungler. It can be used to speed up clearing camps, fast counterjungling and securing or stealing buffs and objectives as Baron and Drake. Also, you can smite Zac while he is recovering with style.|
|Flash A very versatile spell, can be used offensively and defensively. Since Alpha Strike is an offensive and targeted blink, this spell enables you to go where you otherwise couldn't. Especially important since most popular champions have innate dashes, blinks and leaps.|
|Ghost Gives you very much needed movement speed, which makes you a bigger threat for overextenders before level 6. Even when you get Highlander, it does not refresh on kills, and gives less speed at the first two ranks than it used to. Therefore ghost can be used for the sticking power after Highlander is on cooldown, or catching up thus allowing a delayed activation of the ultimate. However, if you want to counterjungle Flash is better.|
|Teleport can be super good if you have some practice with it. The trick is you actually watch the laners while you clear camps, since it comes natural after some practice, so you can seize a good opportunity. Boosts splitpushing potential. Unfortunately, high elo players will hunt you down like a dog before you get any mobility (level 6)|
Strikes twice after four hits
Yi gains stacks in combat for every autoattack, and delivers an additional weaker hit on the fourth one. This hit also triggers the passive, thus effectively striking on every third time after the first rotation. However, on-hit effects are fully applied, triggering things like Hunter's Machete, Doran's Blade and Tiamat. The stacks are lost outside of combat. IMPORTANT: the heal from Feral Flare is also doubled for super healing.
This 300 gold sweetie gives you the best clear speed of all items. The only sensible start right now.
Farm 1350 gold as soon as you can, and buy this. You can still gank, but make sure you don't have to back before you have enough. You will cut through creeps as if they were butter.
The upgrade from Tiamat is very cost efficient, try to finish it ASAP, but only if you don't need some tankyness right away. The passive can be used instead of Alpha Strike for no cost if you don't have much mana left.
Since I build Yi like a bruiser, I find these the best choice. Quite good against the current jungle meta (Lee, Wukong, Pantheon etc).
If you buy any other magic resist item with this build, I will personally find and hunt you down. Very stat efficient, and makes healing from all sources better. Only exception if for some reason you need a Banshee's Veil.
This item is the "guardian angel" of high priority targets, which you are at this point. If used during a late game fight, it's best to sell it for a defensive item. Most importantly Meditate works best at low HPs, and this item allows you to operate on the brink of death, taunting enemies, then absorbing tons of damage.
|The Black Cleaver
Despite the racist name, this item is the best armor penetration option for this build, since it has crazy synergy with Ravenous Hydra. Yi's exceptional attack speed applies the cleaver stacks to a whole team in matter of seconds. Your ADC will love you. Only build Last Whisper if you chose to go glasscannon.
Gives overwhelmingly strong critical strikes, and therefore is the best auto attack enhancing item. Since Alpha Strike can critically strike, this gem can give you burst that rivals with the old AP Yi's.
Picking up this item will raise the critical strike chance , making you the ultimate executioner. Item of choice if there are still "squishy" targets you can dunk at this late stage. Only pick up if you go glass cannon, and buy Infinity Edge as well.
|Blade of the Ruined King
If the enemy is stacking health to counter you, you need to resort to this item. The active can also be nice for your burst. Replace Hydra with this.
Armor penetration for glasscannon builds.
Gives you much needed sticking power when Highlander is on cooldown. The high attack speed will ensure that you always get 10-12% bonus. Pretty much every enchant, with the exception of Distortion, is viable now.
Very solid enchantment, saves time at base, and increases your presence around your nexus. No need for it though if you are dominating anyways.
|Elixir of Fortitude
Take this potion for increasing your powerspike after a completed item, or before a key fight.
So far this guide has been about WHAT you need to play this build, in the following section you can learn HOW to execute it. Before the actual explanation, it’s essential to point out few things about the Master Yi. He is a pretty easy champion to pick up, learning the mechanics is pretty trivial compared to some other champions (just think of Elise). There are absolutely no skillshots involved – playing him is actually all about the timing. Therefore he is a great choice for players who are a bit clumsy with skillshots and microing, like myself, but have a good overall knowledge of skill interactions and game mechanics. It is absolutely vital to identify and grab opportunities when there is one, and take advantage of them because there are only so many in a game, and missing them too often will guarantee a loss. In order to do this, you need to have a constant estimate of how much damage you can do, and how resilient the enemies are. On the one hand this is best done by knowing what other champions do with their abilities, having a rough idea about their cooldowns, and constantly checking how much health and armor they have. On the other hand, with the core items always being the same, you will get a very good idea about your damage output by playing him a few times.
During the loading screen, think about the lane matchups. Compare your laners initiating tools and and the enemies’ escaping skills. This will give you an idea where you should try your luck with ganks initially. Early levels Exhaust is your bane, so always check for that. Also, consider if you can successfully counterjungle the enemy jungler. Furthermore see if a particular ally needs some help with the lane matchup, and remember to pay a visit to that lane early. Use tool like LoL Scouter to check enemy rune/mastery setup in ranked games!
When the game starts, grab your starting gear and quickly cover the jungle entrances, or go invade with the team. If an enemy is revealed, check how much health and armor they have, and take advantage of this knowledge when you decide where to gank. This is important, because you want to start on the opposing side of the jungle. Generally if there is no obvious target, it’s best to start on the lower side, because you can get help from your support, AD carry. Use your Smite to finish to buff off, and head to the nearest camp (wolves/wraiths), and after that to the remaining buff. You can either go for a gank, but don't waste your time if there is no chance of success, because Yi needs to farm.
A small note on proper clearing with Yi, this is especially important early to conserve health points. Always target the big monsters, and always start with a hit followed by an Alpha Strike before the monsters can retaliate. This accomplishes two things; first it’s free damage, second you have started charging Double Strike. The conserved health will start adding up very fast.
Before you engage, make sure your ally has the same level as the enemy (or higher), or wait a few seconds for it to happen. You can either walk up to the enemy and apply the red buff slow (easier said than done – Ghost can help), or use Alpha Strike to close the gap. Don’t forget to walk in between attacks, or even block the enemy’s path if you can flank from behind. If you just right click on the enemy and attack automatically, the escape is much easier. What you have to do is click on the enemy, then click beyond, run a bit and then attack again. A cool thing you can do with Ghost is to actually walk through the enemy after applying the red buff to block the path. Similarly, if you have Flash, and the enemy used theirs, you should Flash over and behind them to make an escape harder. This is why you kite from the side instead of just walking up and attacking from behind. You can towerdive if you are sure the enemy is going down, unless you die in the process. Losing two buffs puts you back in gold and experience very fast.
A short explanation on how towerdives should be done. First, never dive alone, especially not at level three. If you have Alpha Strike, you can take one or two turret shots, then use it, as it drop tower agro, then your teammate takes the agro up and can tank one or two while you escape. If you do this alone, there is no other target, and you die in shame. Late game, however, you will want to towerdive alone when splitpushing, and an opponent cowers below a turret. It is recommended to pick up a Randuin’s Omen or a Guardian Angel when doing this, especially if you can get stunned. Other than this only dive if someone is really low and you can burst them before you take excessive damage.
Instead of ganking a lane first, you can go and put some aggression on their jungler too. Typically junglers will have armor seals, and possibly up to 5 armor from masteries, but with the true damage from Wuju Style and red buff this should be no problem. Furthermore many junglers will rush a Spirit stone, which offers them absolutely no safety from Master Yi. Best case scenario is that you hide in a bush they walk through, and start smashing them with Wuju Style as soon as they enter, saving Alpha Strike for the escape attempt. If however laners come to join the skirmish, and you need to get running, always use Flash to jump terrain. This is much better then to just blink some steps forward, especially if you got slowed, otherwise chances are the 300s spell has been used in vain and you die.
After making use of your red buff to gank and invade, you need to decide how to use your time the effectively. Yi needs gold to reach his core build and be threatening, therefore it makes sense to only gank when there is a specific teammate calling for help, or you can kill the enemy. Otherwise you can try to kill their jungler, and if that’s not working out take his camps for yourself. Note that leaving one minion will prevent the whole camp from respawning, which can be used to hold the jungler down on gold and experience. If this cannot be done either, you can always ward their jungle entrances, wait for a fight commitment, and countergank.
Since Mater Yi lacks crowd control to initiate fights properly, counterganking is especially powerful on him, because they will go far beyond their turret, and use important spells that could stop you. If this is the case, you have got yourself a meal, and a good chance to get a multi kill. If you brought a pink ward, you can strategically create a hole in their vision, from where you descend on the jungler/roamer like Batman.
Distance to Safety
An important concept you need to understand is Distance to Safety (DTS). This can be an enemy’s distance from their tower, or the jungler’s to a tower or their teammate. If the DTS is big enough, you can dish out lots of sustained damage before they can make an escape, and is an ideal opportunity to gank or invade. However, if DTS is small, you need to be able to burst them down, else it’s not worth your time. Top lane therefore is much easier to gank than midlane, because of their different lengths. When counterjungling keep in mind it’s best to engage where DTS is the biggest, if you have a choice that is of course. Additionally this is why you should absolutely destroy the outer middle turret when you have the opportunity to.
Always rush wriggle's lanters. After the first buy, you should aim for a Pickaxe and boots, but if you did well, you can decide to stay a bit longer and rush Tiamat. It puts you in a very powerful position in case you manage to, and always do so when you can. Having Tiamat allows you to donate the second/third blue buff to the midlaner, as you have solved your mana issues. You can also buy a Spirit Stone for crazy healing and clear speed. If Yi would use Alpha Strike with no blue on every camp, he would have to seriously invest in mana or mana regen.
Once you reach level 8-9 and get Tiamat, transition from focusing top and mid to focusing mid and bot lane. This is part of contesting dragon, because following a kill or forcing someone to back for healing your team can use the numbers advantage to get a tower or dragon. You should absolutely buy wards, investing some money in vision can quickly return the money in kills or avoided deaths.
At this point Yi really starts to excel in smaller skirmishes (two or three people fighting), although it’s best if you join after someone gets low, instead of starting them. Your Alpha Strike will be almost maxed, and you have the burst of Tiamat too. Most opponents will not have the resilience at this stage to put up a fight, and will start running, which is allright, because you are faster than they are. Since you do pretty nice AOE damage, having one opponent low on health, bunched up with others can mean you will get killreset after killreset to possibly clean up all of them. Look for these opportunities, because as much as grabbing one will put you far ahead and win the game. Be reminded that having a higher damage than anyone else at this point will not save you from dying.
Your next goal is getting Ravenous Hydra. Once this is done, you can use your jungle to fuel your ganks instead of farming it for gold. With Wuju Style costing no mana, you clear camps in no time thanks to the single target true damage on the big monster, and splash damage on the small ones. You will actually gain mana, thanks to the Big Wolf, Golem and Wraith. The lower you are on mana or health, the more they restore. This way you will always have the mana to grab an arising opportunity, instead of using it for creeping.
Teamfighting can take some getting used to with Master Yi, but doing it properly is very rewarding. I never had Pentakills as frequently as with the new Yi. (Remember, if your team fails to win five on five fights, don’t force it. Buy wards and go splitpushing aggressively.) So how is it done?
Playstyle - Assassin
Secondly you need to decide which approach you chose in the fight: assassin or fighter. Playing as an assassin is always better, but it’s not always possible. It depends whether or not your team can get someone low or locked up, so that you can clean up, resulting in resetting your skills, and cleaning up. Positioning is key. If you can, go in on your prey in a flanking maneuver, this way avoiding getting stuck in their front line. Get to the optimal position with R, jump in with Q, use Hydra,
and if necessary make a few attacks with Wuju Style. If you get the kill and reset, make use of a second Alpha Strike for the AOE damage and untargetabilty, and repeat. If not, you have highlander on, and using the good old approach, enhanced by the splash of Hydra, kill your next target with autoattacks. However, things are mostly not this ideal, and you will get a lot of damage and focus. You might have to Flash to save your life, or start Meditating if the skill is appropriately leveled. If Meditating is impossible in the middle of the fight (because it would just get interrupted), try flashing behind your frontline, and Meditate there.
Playstyle - Fighter
However, if you can’t play the assassin cleanup crew game, say they are too bulky to get low or even the ADC has Warmog’s, consider teamfighting like a fighter. This pretty much means to inflict as much pain as possible before going down. You might want to get some durability to soak damage you inevitably take. Dealing AOE damage from 3 sources definitely helps you do considerable damage, even if you keep getting peeled from your main target. In these cases you should time Alpha Strike to avoid big damage spikes or crowd control, or to jump on their back line once they think you committed on fighting the frontline and come closer.
Credit goes to JhoiJhoi and BLOOFYRE for pros+cons and masteries template.