Mid Surge Kench
Tahm Kench Build
Hi! I’m Aqua Dragon. I ended Season 4 at Master 1 with AD Jungle Malzahar, among others, and am also the co-creator of www.bestbans.com !
This build is part of a series of guides that is given a playstyle and then optimizes it. The guide does not give an opinion on whether the build is good/strong/viable/competitive, nor whether the playstyle is the optimal way to play a champion.
The guide only answers: regardless of strength, if you are playing X, how should you do it?
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This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide. It is meant to outline the basic principle, items, runes, and playstyle of Mid Surge Kench. As such, I won't be delving into why certain customization choices were made. However, my hope is that I will have explained Mid Surge Kench enough that my rationale will be a self-evident extension, and to also allow you to make personal customizations as well.
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Pros and Cons
- Only needs one tongue lash to proc Surge to close gaps
- Able to proc Surge to remove the self-slow from devouring enemies
- Excellent lane bully, especially against melee
- Insanely sticky, guaranteeing kills after closing the gap
- Good utility even when falling behind
- Powerful roaming potential
- Practically never runs out of mana
- Low waveclear and pushing power
- Difficulty against poke compositions
- Hard to reliably get Surge to proc on Devour
- No CDR in the standard build limits utility
- Damage begins to fall off later
What is Mid Surge Kench?
It's interesting to see how one keystone mastery can change up a playstyle. Mid Surge Kench abuses the keystone mastery Stormraider's Surge, combined with the heavier gold at mid lane, to more reliably reach enemies. Additionally, Surge will remove the 90% self-slow from eating enemy champions, making it possible to drop them in the middle of teammates or even underneath towers!
The real difficulty lies in actually reaching opponents, but once that hurdle is crossed, it becomes simple to completely stay on them without any room to escape. This leads to one of the most interesting boons of Surge: after GLP, one Tongue Lash will nearly always proc Stormraider's Surge. Then there is no escape except for the most slippery of opponents.
Kench's lane bullying power is also quite fearsome, especially against melee opponents. With just a little magic penetration, Devour deals significant damage and nearly fully shuts down melee opponents, letting Kench consistently abuse high base values to always win trades.
As late game approaches, Kench's damage begins to fall off a little, but no fear; they still retain significant utility just like a support. Even in a worst case scenario of falling behind, Kench is still able to provide assistance to the team with some of the best peeling power in the game, especially against assassins hoping to dump on a fed carry.
Ketchen Sink of Items
I recommend against starting with Doran's Ring because Kench will never run out of mana after the first back, making the necessity of mana regeneration lacking. A Sapphire start also helps Kench reach their GLP powerspike much faster.
Continue by getting
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After these cores, Kench is largely good to go, almost always being able to proc Stormraider's Surge with just one Tongue Lash while having fairly substantial tankiness and damage.
Continue by picking among situational items:
Careful about going too hard in either the offensive or defensive directions. You need enough damage to reliably proc Surge with one Tongue Lash, but also need enough tankiness to survive being in melee range while whittling down opponents. I personally found against some compositions that I could get away with only half an offensive item (Aether Wisp) while against others I needed it entirely completed (Abyssal Scepter).
The squishier the targets, the less necessity for offensive choices.
While Righteous Glory is a tempting choice, too much of its cost is frontloaded into its mana and there are already so many ample ways to close the distance between Ghost and Stormraider's Surge.
Stage of the Game
In the early game, your goals are to
- Survive the first three levels
- Land tongue lashes to whittle down the lane opponent
- Roam using Abyssal Voyage
After all the basic skills are ready, trade relentlessly. After hitting a Tongue Lash, move in for several autos and hit with Devour, outtrading just about any enemy, especially melee ones.
If the enemy is melee, consider standing on top of the minion wave and punishing them with auto stacks to develop An Acquired Taste. This will make it easy to follow up with a Tongue Lash and likely even proc Stormraiders.
Remember that Stormraider's Surge will nullify the self-slow on Devour when consuming enemy champions. As you ramp up in levels, try to lead with multiple autoattacks and time the Devour to coincide with the Surge, then dragging toward your tower to take heavy minion/tower damage.
Don't worry too hard about your mana after the first back; it's pretty difficult to expend all the mana unless literally using every ability every time it's off cooldown.
One of the advantages of being Mid Lane as Tahm Kench is the amazing access given by Abyssal Voyage. It is exceedingly easy to use the ult to get into range of either the bottom and top lane, especially if you notice the jungler can join you. Take advantage of this to roam when the opponent is not visible.
As the laning phase winds down, you will become the team's picker and initiator.
- Carry pinks and roam around to make picks
- Try landing Tongue Lash on enemies to proc Stormraiders and land an easy Devour
- Use your utility to save teammates in danger
In lieu of the previous point, carry around pinks often and set up ambushes in the enemy's jungle. With Abyssal Voyage, it's possible to make a quick getaway after securing a kill in the jungle.
If you've begun to fall behind, consider taking on a more utility role by peeling for your teammates. Note that it's difficult to be both the engager and peeler, so you will often have to decide on one choice during a teamfight and stick with that choice, or else risk being kited around far too easily.
Kenchin up to enemies
- Your damage will start to fall; peel for teammates
- Use Devour to proc Stormraider's Surge rather than Tongue Lash
- Continue bringing pinks and making picks
However, squishier supports will still be easily taken down if caught off guard in the jungle while looking to ward the area. Look to snatch them up in one fell swoop while escaping with Abyssal Voyage.
This guide was a lot of fun to write, and I hope you all have learned everything you would have liked. If you have any questions, leave a comment or drop a line over at twitch.tv/aquadragon33 ! And be sure to check out www.bestbans.com !
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Tahm to finish this conclusion.