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Jungle Yi... Form, Before Strength
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Despite the nerf that Master Yi received after his rework was over powered, he is still one of the strongest champions in the game despite not being played all that frequently; all you need to do is to build him right and know your positioning for different situations. I have found Master Yi's saying, "Form, Before Strength", to be one of the most powerful aspects of Master Yi. This build does not rely on the stacking of life steal and attack damage as many people seem to think Master Yi is intended to do, he is not a busier, he is an assassin, form is his friend, critical strike chance is his friend. In this build I hope to adequately explain the advantages and disadvantages of Master Yi and the different strategies you can employ when playing him. Please up vote if you think this build is good and don't down vote unless you are willing to suggest changes, I will be happy to hear and consider any and all suggestions.
I am in the process of updating this guide as I noticed I had not done that in about 2 months and a lot has changed. I hope to have this completely updated in the next day or so but I expect to forget a few things that will be filled in over the next week or so. . Happy hunting.
Your first back should include the Spirit Stone and Berserker's Greaves (1375 gold) if you cannot afford Spirit of the Elder Lizard (1675 gold), only build Berserker's Greaves if you are forced to back early or if you are behind in money, otherwise I never build boots on this champion as Youmuu's Ghostblade and Highlander provide all the mobility you will need in addition to all the other movement stats from items later in the build. If you have the money for it rush Youmuu's Ghostblade , it is the most pivotal item Master Yi can build as it is, for all practical purposes, a duplication of Highlander and when activated at the same time as Highlander it will end in at least one kill, likely two or three if you can position yourself properly for the kills. As soon as you obtain Youmuu's Ghostblade, it is important to get another Avarice Blade. This will help you out pace the enemy team in gold, especially if you are not picking up kills, and will build into the Statikk Shiv in late game.
The Infinity Edge is the second most important item in this build, there are rarely substitutions for this item (occasionally Blade of the Ruined King will take its place but only in very odd situations). The entire build is set around the idea that you will be critically striking enemy champions for 900-1200 damage even if they have 200-300 armor. Armor penetration becomes pointless with this build which, in my opinion, is one of its strengths as tanks will frequently opt for health over resistances making your team mates more effective as well. You will follow this item up with the Statikk Shiv and then you can choose one of a few items. The Phantom Dancer is the most preferred of the items as it will bring your critical strike rating up to 90%. Alternatives include the following
• Bloodthirster: best used when dueling is the primary type of engagement, or when blind is an issue (Quinn or Teemo are two of your biggest obstacles) as your alpha strike will become your best killing method. Also provides you with your best counter to Thornmail which is generally a counter to Master Yi.
• Blade of the Ruined King: this is for when two or more champions on the enemy team are very tanky, 3.5k health or more on both. It is only useful when you need to sustain damage against a very high health champion. It may also be useful if you find the enemy team is building Thornmail as the lifesteal can provide the difference in the damage you will deal to yourself.
• Zephyr: this weapon should always be in the back of your mind, though it is not always the best option at this point in the game it will eventually replace your boots if you built them and gives you the [tenacity] you need to survive direct engages if your team has no other strong engage champions.
• Banshee's Veil : best when there is a Blitzcrank, Thresh, Nidalee or any other champion that has a grab, a slow, a massive poke, or any other ability that you want to outright avoid.
• Maw of Malmortius : this is your strongest AP resistance item available to Master Yi, it provides the most protection while also making AP based champions who will try to burst down your health seal their own fate. The extra AD you gain with low health is enough to out race their bust damage so long as you can avoid stuns and you end that engagement on top.
To finish out your build, and there should be very few chances to do this, you will want to replace your boots with a Zephyr or a Bloodthirster if you built boots at all. This only a final assuming you do not need the defensive items discussed above. This build is the preferred end for Master Yi as it provides all the mobility, attack speed, critical strike chance, and attack damage Master Yi could ever need. If you can reach the point in the game where you can construct this final build then your goal should be to pick off enemy champions whenever you can. You will not be able to be realistically dulled by any champion and your burst should be able to take out any champion in just a few hits. Master Yi specializes at this point in the game at punishing bad positioning by the other team, float around objectives and wait for a single champion to run in to ward or try to take one of the objectives (barron, dragon, blue buff, red buff) and killing off that one champion can end the enemy team’s chances at victory in an otherwise close game.
Mysteries are pretty strait forward; you want to build Master Yi as an AD carry/assassin for the most part, so the best I have found so far is a 22/8/0 builds. Tough Skin and Bladed Armor are very helpful in early juggling. I would recommend Enchanted Armor which leaves three pointoints left in the defensive tree which can be put in either Veteran’s Scars or Recovery ; my preference is Veteran’s Scars as I find it more relevant in early game jungling.
This page is pretty standard, the only real options you have are in the marks and quints:
Your marks can be interchanged with Greater Mark of Armor Penetration though I have found that it is much less useful in early game as jungle is much more difficult to clear without the extra attack damage. As for the quints, I have found that all three Greater Quintessence of Life Steal are necessary now that Wriggle's Lantern is no longer an option as it does not give 12% life steal any longer. Master Yi needs that life sustain in jungle in order to be useful when ganking lanes, and indeed he needs to be useful as now his best form of income is in killing enemies. Other possible options would be Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage or Greater Quintessence of Attack Speed though I found them less helpful then what I suggested above.
There is, in my opinion, only one choice of summoner spells here, Flash and Smite. Smite is of course the only choice for a juggler as it will secure countless objectives throughout the games you play with it. Flash is a bit more negotiable, though I believe the value of it is unparalleled by any other summoner spell and its ability to secure kills throughout the game makes it the best option. That being said, there are some who prefer Ghost, Exhaust, or Barrier over Flash, and to them I say, learn how to use Flash. Ghost can be quite good for running champions down but Master Yi has his own ways of doing this on his own, and though I am normally a fan of redundancies in champion abilities and summoner spells/items , I find this trivial and for the most part useless. Exhaust is probably the most arguable replacement for flash as Master Yi has no form of CC. I still find that Flash is the more useful of these spells because, unless you are dueling with a better Master Yi or another snowballed assassin champion, Exhaust has little relevance other than slowing down an enemy champion for Master Yi to secure a kill, but honestly, with Highlander coming up every 65 seconds or so catching a fleeing champion should not be much of an issue. Barrier can be quite good for early turret dives or dueling but I find in late game is quite lack luster. The sheer utility of Flash is what makes it superior to all other options, and if you are not good with it, I suggest you start practicing, because it will change the way you play the game.
This one should be pretty quick, for the most part you want to max out your Alpha Strike and Highlander as quickly as possible. After those two Wuju Style is the next priority. This build is highly reliant on blue buff, so if you find yourself giving Blue buff to your mid you may want to max Wuju Style over Alpha Strike though it will result in less effective gankes. Below is the ideal ability order for Jungleling Master Yi.
Master Yi is a bit of an odd champion when it comes to team fights. While his insane power and ability to nuke squishy and tanky champions alike makes it seem like initially he would be a head on engage type of champion, he is quite the opposite. While similar champions like Evelynn can engage a team fight head on with great effect, Master Yi does not have the luxury of natural survival abilities like Evelynn’s shield which she receives from her ultimate. Instead Master Yi must let his team engage as a distraction so that he can dive in with an Alpha Strike and take out the most threatening champion. One of the most successful strategies for this is to let the teams flounder with pokes in mid lane until Master Yi has achieved a position to either side of the enemy team or behind the enemy team where he has easy access to adc’s or ap caries. Unless a ward gives Master Yi away, most of the crowd control effects will be blown on one of the champions forcing the engage leaving Master Yi free to clean up the rest of their team.
So long as you have adequate vision throughout the jungle, Master Yi is virtually unstoppable when he is in it. During late game it is important to not use Flash as a way of securing kills but as a way of escaping bad situations when you are caught off guard in jungle. There can only be so much warding, so it is only a matter of time before you are caught in a 1v4 in jungle and your only way out is to Flash over a wall or activate Highlander to get away from the enemy team. Success as Master Yi is about learning where you need to be and when, and learning how to not die. This probably sounds very basic but not dyeing is OP.
As I have already addressed, Master Yi is not intended for head on engages. He much prefers to run in and get a kill on a carry and then run the rest of the team down as they attempt to flee the team fight. When engaging in a team fight from behind the enemy team, I find the most successful strategy is to activate Highlander and Youmuu's Ghostblade at the same time. Once you are in range Alpha Strike in to the carry or whoever needs to be hard targeted at the time (unless their tank is carrying, always focus someone with lower total health if you can) after your Alpha Strike is completed you will automatically auto attack the targeted champion which will 9/10 times critically hit and activate the Statikk Shiv, which should critically hit the majority of, if not all, of its targets. This combo on its own will normally be enough to take out a champion like Ashe or Vayne, though higher health champions may take an extra auto attack, it has the added bonus of leaving the rest of the enemy team around half health after your Alpha Strike and Statikk Shiv proc. That kill and the auto attacks should have reset your Alpha Strike at this point because of Highlander and you can pretty much repeat this sequence of Alpha Strikes on the rest of the team as you chase them back to their base.
Master Yi can make himself useful to his team in a number of other ways when the team fight phase comes around. He is almost unparalleled in his ability to siege turrets and secure objectives this can be used to your teams advantage. There have been a number of times when late in the game (45-60 min) I have run out of my base leaving my team with their back to a turret 4v5, only for the other team to realize that I have taken 2 turrets and an inhibitor at their base before any of them could respond or in some cases I use the distraction to take baron while my team holds back in base. Either of those situations can be devastating for the opposing team and can, in many cases, be the death sentence for them. When you are playing a character like Master Yi , you have to be very map aware for he can take almost every objective by himself when the opportunity presents itself, you just have to be able to recognize and take advantage of them when they appear. Master Yi’s real team value comes from his ability to turn bad situations into victories when the enemy team makes a mistake. Learn to position yourself so that you can punish anyone on the other team who is out of place and your team will rarely loose a game.
Master Yi synergizes well with mid champions who rely on energy or at least don’t require blue buff often though with the new Spirit of the Elder Lizard mana is not all that problematic so long as you are taking out jungle camps frequently. He is more than capable of passing blue off to mid but you will find that Master Yi’s mana will not extend quite as far as you would like it to when you don’t have blue. You can always adjust your jungling strategy to focus on Wuju Style over Alpha Strike though I find that this causes your ganking to suffer. Alpha Strike is your strongest jungling ability and will allow you to clear jungle very quickly. This is a distinct advantage over junglers like Rammus as you can stay on track with their farm while also being able to run in and gank lanes in need or that are just set up well for an easy kill. You will find, however, that red buff is not as necessary once you have your ultimate and Youmuu's Ghostblade and that can be easily passed off to your adc or your ad busser. This is up to you though, personally I prefer to have the slow and burn damage myself but there are situations when passing on red buff to a team mate is much more beneficial.
Don’t be too afraid of trading kills early in the game, so long as Master Yi remains even in kills he will snowball out of control very quickly. Generally, I feel safe trading kills up to 4/4/0. At that point the money you make off of your kills will give allow you to purchase Youmuu's Ghostblade , and from there your record will extend to something more like 7/4/0 or higher. I frequently find that I trade four kills early game and because of the money I gain from those kills I can manage not to die for the rest of the game. In most cases, trading a kill in the first 10-15 minutes of the game is not bad at all for Master Yi, though clean kills would be preferable, the first four kills are crucial for Master Yi to get the items that he needs to snowball effectively during mid and late game. That being said, if you are not positioning yourself well or you are just reckless you will find that KDA inverted. Even the best items cannot counter stupid plays and positioning.
Try to avoid direct confrontation in the early game. Master Yi is incredibly fragile and, unless you are taking your opponent by surprise, he will not win most jungle fights especial against tanky jungles like Udyr. Your best bet if an enemy jungle is attempting to take one of your buffs is to wait them out and steal the buff with Smite or let them have it. Odds are that a fight in the jungle in the first few levels will not go in Master Yi’s favor. Of course there are plenty of exceptions, it just comes down to reading the situation and not walking blindly into a Bear Stance just to have Udyr kill you at level three because you didn’t think to check the bushes next to red buff. If you catch an enemy jungle stealing a buff and you don’t think you can contest, the best alternative is to take some of the enemy jungles farm. With the speed that Master Yi can clear jungle monsters, there won’t be a whole lot that the enemy jungle can do to stop you and you can even out on experience in most cases.
I imagine this list will get longer as I go but I’ll start with the obvious ones for now.
• Teemo: The scourge of the earth if you are Master Yi. His blind is bad enough as it is but he hits hard as hell on top of that. A head on engage with Teemo will likely end in a dead Master Yi but there are a few ways around this, coordinating a couple early kills on Teemo is the best way to deal with him, death is the most OP CC there is in this game. The other way I find to deal with Teemo is to avoid him like the plague. Ill often ask another champion who is better suited to dealing with him (someone not reliant on auto attacks like Ryze ) to focus him and for the most part avoid combat until Teemo is dead or running away. Your goal when facing a Teemo is simply not to feed him kills and land an Alpha Strike when you can. There isn’t a whole lot you can do against a Teemo except hope he gets behind on his build and build as much ap resist as you can justify.
• Quinn: Another champion with blind … ya not really all that fun but not as bad as Teemo. Avoid Quinn at early levels so as not to give her free kills and you should be able to burst her down mid and late game easily enough even with the blind . Just be careful during team fights.
• Udyr: One of the strongest counter jungles to Master Yi and not much less annoying when he is played in lane. His stun is bad enough and on top of that he is tanky as hell. It is important to avoid all fights with Udyr before you have your ultimate and even after you get Highlander it’s not particularly advised. Your strongest thing against Udyr is Wuju Style. The true damage is your best bet to taking out an Udyr, try not to fight him alone.
• Malzahar: luckily he is not played too often in the current meta game, but his suppression is a death sentence for Master Yi. Just like with Teemo, the one ability is bad enough, but Master Yi has little health, so once the ability is off you are pretty much dead. Build a Banshee's Veil asap or you are not going to stand a chance. You can also ask a team mate who is better suited to that fight to make it as hard on him as possible but the odds are once you get to team fights you are going to have to capitalize where you can and accept any kills Malzahar gets on you, trade where you can and do your best not to die.
• Skill shot champions: ( Blitzcrank, Thresh, Nidalee, Morgana, Jayce, Jinx, ect…): All of these champions have some sort of grab, pin, or linear damaging ability that will wreck someone as squishy as Master Yi. The best way to dodge these as Yi is to keep an eye on the minions nearby. Not only are they good for blocking these skill shots but you can use your Alpha Strike to escape the path of these hindrances by jumping to the minions. Champions like Jayce, Jinx, and Nidalee can also be tricked into firing off their ability and you can Alpha Strike through it, jumping to them for an easy kill. Mastering this will result in a lot of easy kills that your opponents cannot deal with.