Build Guide by Palthios
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Master Yi Build
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.
*Expanded the Situational Items section
*Added more tips to the Mid and End Game sections
*Added a Helpful Allies section
*Added Situational Items section
*Added more detail to the Skills section
*Added an Early Game section
*NOTE* This guide was designed for 5v5 and is not meant to be used in 3s.
Early on in my LoL career, Yi was one of the champs I feared the most. He has great damage output, insane attack speed, and he's one of the fastest champs in the game. He seemed so OP. My belief in that only increased when I actually started playing him. As Yi, I feared no one and I dominated.
But as I got into higher levels my views began to change. Not only that, but I noticed that other players no longer feared him either. He went from being a threat, to being everyone's number one target. The Yi everyone knows is useless in team fights if the enemy plays smart. Even if you join the fight midway, you instantly become the opposing teams number one target. Your only hope is to join the fight right at the end and act as cleanup crew.
The problem with that, is the fact that you're betting on your team to win a 5v4 match up. Its not a viable way to carry a game. Other melee champs like Xin and Tryndamere are much better suited to carrying a team in the kills department due to their survivability. Because of this I moved on from Yi for a long time.
But I love the little guy and I couldn't get him out of my mind. I was determined to come up with a new build and play style that would make him a top tier threat. What I came up with is something that works amazingly well and no one ever expects.
From what Ive seen on Mobafire, my guide is vastly different from the others, so I hope you enjoy this new take on an old champ.
So why AD and not Armor Pen? As the title implies, you're building to be a turret destroyer. Armor Pen isn't going to do you much good in that department. With both sets you end up getting +28 damage at level 18. Think about that for a second. Thats over half a BF Sword that you get just for reaching end game.
Make sure you save up for these and pass up . You're sacrificing early game damage, but its the mid/late game that counts.
Attack speed is very important in this build and that little boost will help with last hits early game.
CDR is absolutely vital in this build. You need to have and off CD as soon as possible to be effective.
I know that this is going to need some explaining because I'm sure anyone even remotely familiar with Yi is thinking "This guy must be out of his mind". Just hear me out.
First I spec into Teleport and Ghost because they're must have spells in this build. I'll explain why later.
Then 3 points into reduced death time. I feel that this is super important now that Riot increased the death time in 5s.
Now... what is one of Yi's major problems early game? Low mana pool. And whats why I spec fully into increased mana/mana regen.
Utility Mastery is simply fantastic. The increased buff duration is very helpful.
Next up we have movement speed and CDR. Both are vital to this build.
And finally, you need to spec fully into this tree because having Teleport off CD sooner can literally change the flow of the entire game.
On the offensive side I spec fully into crit and one point into ap just to get into the next tier. Then spec fully into CDR and place my last point into attack speed.
You might be thinking that you'd be taking a huge risk with these masteries if you're used to playing Yi a certain way, but you just have to trust me on this.
*NOTE* I dont spec into experience gain because its useless end game. You'll be getting a ton of solo xp with this play style so its not unlikely that you'll hit level 18 before everyone else.
This is going to need some explaining too so here goes.
Getting from point A to point B as fast as possible is vital with this build. That makes this an easy choice. Don't buy anything else. You may be tempted into buying Berserker's because this is Yi. Don't. You're going to get massive attack speed from your 2nd and 3rd items. Speed is what makes this play style work. Dont stray from these boots.
Swiftness is also really cheap, which allows you to get into the rest of the build in a timely manner.
At this point you need to work in some lifesteal so you can stay in the lanes longer and have a better chance of winning fights. Yi is very vulnerable without lifesteal. It also gives your team a very nice aura when you'll be entering in team fights late game.
AD, crit, armor pen, CDR, and an active that mimics Yi's ult... Holy ****!
This item is key to you're success. Its main use is going to be destroying turrets but make sure you use it for every fight you get into as well. Its active is on a short 60 second cooldown.
This is my secret weapon and its key to making this build work. I know what you're thinking... The same thing that everyone says when I use this build... "Tank Yi? WTF!?" or "Why is Yi building tank!?"
I'll tell you why. Because all the AD and attack speed in the world wont help you take down a turret if you cant take some turret hits or withstand some attacks from an enemy champ.
There's going to be times where you only have a couple minions to tank for you and without Warmog's you wont be able to take down the turret in time. You'll have to wait for more minions to move up, which will give the enemy more then enough time to gank you.
You must get this item.
Also, Yi is one of the best farmers in the game which means you'll have this thing maxed out in no time. It makes a world of difference in late game team fights as well.
*NOTE* Don't fool yourself into thinking that your a tank because of this item. End game your still very vulnerable if you get focused.
More lifesteal and AD. An easy choice.
More AD, attack speed, and a great passive that's going to help not just you, but the whole team finish off your selected target.
In some cases its actually best to make your last item defensive. Because of Warmogs, there's a chance that you could be the most tanky person on your team if you don't have a tank. If thats the case, look at the enemy team and decide who your major treats are. As I said earlier, Yi is a primary target in team fights so choose the correct defensive item and make them regret focusing you. Going defensive is something that the enemy team never expects from Yi and it can be a game changer because your still a very effective killer.
If your main threats are AD, this is your best choice.
If your main threats are AP, it doesnt get any better then this.
The effectiveness of both items is vastly increased in combination with Warmogs. Yet another reason why I always go with Warmogs mid game.
If you're going up against a bulky team you'll need to change up your build a little.
Take in that beautiful sight for a second...
Stark's= Reduces the armor of nearby enemy champs by 20
Ghostblade= +20 armor penetration
Black Cleaver= Each hit reduces the enemy champs armor by 15 for 5 seconds (max 3 stacks).
Last Whisper= 40% armor penetration
You're gonna have to change your name to The Tank Buster.
You need to level this up first. Increasing your damage early game without buying AD items is key. Its going to help you get last hits and of course help in fights. Its very important that this skill is maxed out by the time early game ends.
DOs and DON'Ts: Don't ever use Wuju to push a lane. If you do, chances are that it'll still be on CD when you reach the turret, wasting you valuable time. Save Wuju's active for fights and turrets only.
Don't ever activate Wuju before a fight. I see Yi players do this all the time and its a waste. Activate Wuju after you get your first hit in.
Early game you wont be using this too much. This is a very situational skill early on. Its still important to level this second because without it, you wont be able to push lanes effectively when mid game starts.
DOs and DON'Ts: If you need to scare champs away from your turret, target a nearby minion and it should scare them back for a few seconds. In a situation like this, don't ever directly target an enemy champ. After Alpha Strike ends, you're going to be left in a very vulnerable position that could get you killed if you do.
Dont spam early game! Alpha consumes a ton of mp early on and you'll run out of mana really fast.
Don't ever use Alpha to initiate a fight if the enemy is at full health. Chances are it wont be off CD when you need it to chase.
When pushing a lane mid/late game you want to spam this as often as possible. Alpha has the ability to instantly kill minions and thats one of the reasons why Yi is so good at lane control.
In most situations this skill is almost useless so dont focus on it.
DOs and DON'Ts: A lot of people level this up early and use it to heal. I used to do the same and its a huge mistake. That's what health pots are for. Save your mana.
Near the start of the match you can put one early point into Meditate depending on who you lane against. Like if you're up against someone such as Twitch or someone with an ignite. If that's the case, you need to have meditate and a health potion at the ready to fend off those effects before they take away your last bit of health. I cant tell you how many times Ive saved myself by doing so.
If you use meditate all the time to heal you wont have it off CD when you really need it.
I love this skill with a passion and its what makes Yi the best turret destroyer in the game. And the fact that it instantly recharges after you get a kill is fantastic.
DOs and DON'Ts: Dont ever activate Highlander before a fight unless you need to close the distance really fast to help a teammate or to chase. In most cases you should activate after you get your first hit in and Wuju is already active.
Dont ever use Highlander to push a lane. You need to save this for fights and turrets.
When it comes to spells you only have 2 options with this play style.
This is going to be saved for dodging ganks. I would suggest NOT using it offensively. If you just got done destroying a tower, that means your ult and ghostblade are both on CD. If you don't have time to recall and Teleport is on CD, ghost is the only thing that's going to save you. Save it for when you need it.
And here it is. This is what makes Yi's lane control so effective. This is an absolute must for this play style.
My favorite thing to do with this spell is to draw the other team to one end of the map by pushing a lane and then porting to the opposite end of the map to get an easy turret kill. It works all the time.
This can also be used defensively. You can use it to port back to a friendly turret should one be under attack. Don't do that unless you have to. Yi is a terrible defender so you shouldn't put him in that situation unless its absolutely necessary.
This is just a collection of champs that can be very helpful to you with this play style. Ive only found 2 so far but I hope to add more in the future.
I had the good fortune of playing with a really good TF recently that made my job as Yi very easy. He also had teleport and as soon as he caught on to my play style, he did everything he could to help. If I was hitting a turret, he popped his ult so I could see if I was in any danger. If I was pushing a lane, he pushed the other. If I was hitting a turret and he had his ult and teleport, he used his tele to help me with the turret and then used his ult to get back to our allies. It was amazing.
If you have a good TF player on your friends list, have him or her read this guide so you can coordinate your lane control efforts. The results are devastating.
With his ult he can jump anywhere you are and that can be very helpful. If you have an opportunity to take out a turret, call for him and you might be able to take out 2 before the enemy can react. These 2 heavy AD champs can backdoor something fierce if you coordinate your efforts.
Yi has a pretty weak early game so this is when you really have to play safe. Until you hit level 6 and get some lifesteal your not much of a threat at all. If you don't have a good lane partner, or just have someone that doesn't complement you well, you need to play defense and wait for the enemy to make a mistake.
Tip: If you have the chance to choose a lane partner you should go with someone like Lux who has slows, traps, etc. A tank like Shen or Rammus who can taunt is also a good choice. You need a lane partner with CC to be effective.
Tip: Yi is very item dependent so you need to focus on getting last hits as often as possible.
Tip: Getting a kill isn't worth dying for so dont take any stupid risks. The key to winning any game is to not feed early. I usually finish early game with about 3-7 kills and 0-2 deaths and thats what you need to shoot for. Ending early game with 6 kills and 6 deaths isn't beneficial.
Tip: Learning when to use Teleport offensively during early game is key, so make sure you keep tabs on your teammates. If you're top lane and bottom lane just got a kill, check your mini map and see how far their minions are pushed up. If their minions are close to the enemy turret move your camera down there to see whats going on. If they get the second kill you need to teleport in, help push up the minions, and take out the turret as fast as possible. This is very difficult early game with low respawn times and low AD so timing is key.
Mid Game Lane Control
The key to pushing lanes is to be super aggressive and put yourself in situations that make you SEEM vulnerable. That's going to put the teams attention on you and yes, that's what you want. As I said earlier, Yi isn't very good in strait up team fights so you need to find ways to disrupt the opposing team's plan.
Im going to use a situation in a recent game I had as an example.
It was well into mid game and I had everything up to Warmog's built. The entire enemy team decided make a push on mid and I decided to push bottom while the rest of my teammates defended. Our minions were already pushed more then halfway there so getting to the turret was no problem. I got it down to 1/4 health when lux showed up, killed all my minions and started focusing me. Because I had Warmog's I was able to take the turret hits and Lux's focus long enough to finish the tower. And because of the massive health bonus I was able to kill Lux as well. Instead of pulling back I decided to keep pushing the same lane, recovering health with lifesteal along the way. I made this decision because I could see the other 4 enemies on my mini map. Good map awareness is needed for this play style.
At this point the opposing team retreated and started running at me to gank. I was able to get another turret and as soon as I finished it off, I teleported to top lane and took out one more turret before recalling.
Because of the push I made the opposing team had to disrupt their plan. And the best thing, was that in all the chaos, the rest of my team was able to take down a turret in mid.
With this play style you have to learn how to turn your enemies aggression against them. That was a really successful push that doesn't happen every day, but its not unlikely that you end up getting 2 turrets in a situation like that.
If the opposing team is smart, they'll probably start playing defense after a stunt like that. If the enemy is mostly mia and waiting for your team to make a move, you must stay hidden. Just hit up the jungle until your team makes a move. When they do, start pushing an empty lane as fast as you can to get the other teams attention. Don't be afraid to use ghostblade but try to save your ult if you can. Chances are that you wont get a turret here but you will disrupt the enemy and give your team a better chance at pushing their lane.
It might be tough at first to break out of your normal playing habits, but after some practice you'll be able to predict opportunities like this, plan ahead, and react.
Tip: Don't focus on getting kills. If you have an opportunity for an easy kill you should take it but don't chase. With this play style everyone is going to be doing their best to gank you and its likely that you're being led into a trap.
Its important to note that you don't need kills to finish your build with this play style. Your going to end up with massive amounts of minion kills and that's all you need.
Tip: After you learn this play style don't let any of your teammates pull you from your strategy. If things are going bad they will probably blame you for it. But when things turn around because of your 8 turret kills, they will shut up.
Don't feel bad about leaving your team. If you push correctly, you will draw one or two opponents away from a fight. If your team cant win a 4v4 or 4v3, that's not your fault.
Tip: If you're hitting a turret and you got yourself into a situation that you cant get out of, don't try to run. Do everything you can to finish off that turret. Destroying one is totally worth dying for.
Tip: Dont forget the importance of placing wards at Baron and Dragon. Catching the enemy off gaurd when they go for either can change the pace of a game. You're not going to be carrying the team in kills with this play style so finishing your build isn't as important. Make this your job. It can win games if your team reacts properly.
There comes a time when your solo adventures must come to an end. That time is after you've punched a hole to the enemy nexus. If your team tries for a final push its very important that you're there to back them up and not off trying to destroy some more unnecessary buildings. Your ability to back door is almost nonexistent at this point so don't even try unless you have a very clear opportunity to do so.
Its very important that your entire team coordinates during the final strike. If not, you will lose.
This is a good example of that:
I only had 2 deaths when we took down the first inhib and we had the advantage the entire game. We lost because we couldn't coordinate a final push to save our lives. It happens. When it does, don't blame yourself and don't listen to your team if they blame you. Its the entire teams fault. Teamwork is key to finishing a game and the outcome doesn't rest on one person's shoulders.
Its hard to give advice here because its completely and totally situational.
Tip: I said the outcome of a game doesn't rest on one persons shoulders, and that's true. But game winning backdoor opportunities do present themselves from time to time and you have to be ready.
I was in a game recently where we had the enemies middle inhib down and I just finished taking out the 3rd top turret. At this point the enemy made 2 mistakes.
1. They didnt leave anyone behind to defend. I was ripping through their base the whole game and they were dying to take me out.
2. They let super minions push all the way to their nexus turrets because they were too busy trying to catch me.
My team reacted and came to my aid but winning a team fight isn't what I had in mind. After I fully realized what was happening, I teleported to the enemy base and took out their 2 nexus turrets before they even realized what was going on. Sivir teleported back to stop me but I was able to take her focus long enough to finish off the nexus because of Warmog's.
One of my opponents told me that I was a sorry player and I needed to get a life. The rest of the team responded with "gg Yi".
You have to be ready to react in situations like this but you can't force it. If you do the enemy will catch on to you and leave someone behind to defend.
I tried to create a new play style for Yi that was viable in any situation and I believe Ive done that. It works for me and I really hope you all give it a shot. Please rate and comment if you decide to give it a go.
Your first experience might be bad if you end up on a **** team, but give it a few tries and you'll see how effective it is.