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Master Yi Build Guide by Feeder Ralph

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.

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Feeder Ralph

Master Yi - Jedi of the Battlefield

Feeder Ralph Last updated on June 12, 2012
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.



Offense: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 21

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I've been around MOBAFIRE for a while, and during all that time, I've noticed plenty of new Master Yi builds run through here. A majority of them claimed they possessed some sort of "hidden knowledge" to remove all of Yi's issues while still embracing his raw damage. So I played plenty of these builds, following the skill tree and sticking to the Core item build, and I have found all of them still have the problems they claimed to be rid of. I came to realize that there is no fix to them without sacrifice. Playing well is the best thing you can do.

So I played around to see what could be done. And I found that as Yi, you don't want to rely on running so much faster than your opponent that you can actually get off the unnecessary amount of attackspeed you have efficiently, only to be ganked by your enemies at the point you finally do kill the hero you were chasing. No, you want to Pop in, Pop your ult, Kill your target, and get out. And hopefully, thats just what this build will help you accomplish.

But first, lets take a look at the different ways someone could play Yi.

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Identifying Current builds

AP: Ability Power
  • Great farm
  • Good burst
  • Can harass
  • CC disrupts meditate
  • Loses to Offtanks
  • Can be focused
HP: Tanking Yi
  • Decent Tanking
  • Good sustainability
  • Good initiator
  • Low damage
  • Poor farm
  • CC still rapes
AD/AS: Attack Damage
  • Great damage
  • Good farm
  • BD capable
  • Squishy
  • Will be focused
  • CC destroys

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Why these masteries?
I want Yi to be successful early game. That means if his lane gets dominated by a pair of ranged carries, he will need Mana Regen and CDR to try and proc minions from Alpha Strike to make some gold and harass, which is what this mastery setup provides. We could also take 21/0/9, for a more offensive Yi, but I feel it is safer to utilize his farming capabilities than to gamble for kills. Regardless of how you play Yi, he needs a good early game farm to be successful.

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Greater Mark of desolation These are a must for Yi. They provide a great early game advantage, and a secret late game bonus. Again, a must.

Greater Seal of replenishment These can be substituted for things like Dodge and Flat Armor runes, but I find them much more useful throughout the game than its companions. Feel free to mix and match, too.

Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction These are the only primary Glyph's I find useful on Yi. You could also get Flat CDR, but Yi's early game cooldowns are huge, and the Glyph's still can't be of use till later levels.

Greater Quintessence of Health Flat HP for early game. People only generally attack you when they see you have taken some damage. Hopefully, the extra bar on your HP will intimidate opponents away, and it does. Its all about the mindgames, man.

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Summoner Spells

Why this? You need to kill your targets, not chase them all over hell just to be killed by one of their buddies. The slower they are, the more damage you do.

Why this? Flash is an amazing summoner spell. Any hero can take it to have an initiator OR an escape mechanism OR a chaser. While it is still available in LoL, there really isn't a reason not to utilize it.

Other Choices:

Ghost IMO, Yi's Highlander makes him go fast enough, even without Phantom Dancer's, but if you feel lacking in the speed department, feel free to give this one a try.

Smite Good if you're jungling, although this build mostly reflects on laning, and I would recommend one of the other builds available for jungling.

Teleport If nobody on your team has this or a spell like this (I.E. Destiny, Grand Skyfall) then it would be O.K. for you to do so, since you are a wonderful pusher.

Cleanse Great against a team full of CC's, but it is a risky pick and I would rather just buy Quicksilver Sash than let this take up one of my precious summoner spell slots.

Ignite Can be substituted, but I don't find it as effective as Exhaust or Flash. If you are always on the enemy team's ***, you shouldn't have to worry about them getting away.

Not to get

Clarity You are mana starved, but you do not need this to be successful.

Heal I see why this is a tempting choice, could turn the tides in an early fight, but what is a few early game kills opposed to all the kills you could get with Flash/Exhaust?

Revive Don't get me wrong, I see the awesomeness in this spell. But when you die as Yi, you did something wrong. And you need to take a moment and think about what that was. Pressing revive and running out just to die again will just make you more upset when you finally do have to think about it.

Clairvoyance Let a support or AP hero utilize this one. Yi is fast enough to get away from ganks, most of the time.

Rally This is an awful summoner spell. Let nobody deceive you. Do not get this. It is awful. Maybe in the new game mode that is coming out we will see more of it, but in the standard maps, it is worthless.

Fortify Let a tank get this one. Its their job to absorb most of the damage anyways.

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Ability Overview

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Why max Wuju Style first? Because maxing Meditate would make your mid-game terrible, and spamming Alpha Strike all the time is going to drain your mana very fast. Now I'm not saying you shouldn't use Alpha Strike, but just remember you need 150 mana to utilize your Ultimate. And then Wuju Style at level 4 gives the same damage increase as The Black Cleaver. Whats not to love?

Why invest in Meditate early? Here's a little scenario for you:

While you are roaming the jungle on your side of the river, you spot a wild Udyr! He has been stealing your teams jungle! He runs to you with Bear Stance, and you promptly Alpha Strike him. Hes already at low health, and in two more hits your Double Strike will proc. But oh no! He Exhausted you and is tearing through your health faster than you can say banana! And your summoner spells are on CD! What will you do? Thats right. Pop your Meditate, take no damage while you wait for Exhaust to wear off, and double strike him for the kill.

Everything else here is pretty self explanatory. (I hope!) Keep in mind these aren't set in stone; If you are being harassed early an extra point or two in meditate would make perfect sense.

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Core Items

Item Sequence

Mercury's Treads

Bilgewater Cutlass

The Black Cleaver

  • Doran's Blade Why this? Health, damage, and lifesteal. I believe that fits the description of what kinds of items Yi craves.
  • Bilgewater CutlassWhy this? This item is what inspired me to make this guide. Most people I have seen look at it and say "Why would a Yi get a Bilgewater Cutlass? He doesn't need a Gunblade." First off, rarely does the game to continue to the point where I need to upgrade this into the Gunblade. Second, Cutlass is amazing. 50% slow, 35 damage, and 15% lifesteal? Its like a dream in a sword! You will be amazed about how easy killing your prey becomes, even when they stun you. Just Alpha Strike to them, apply the Cutlasses ability, Shoot up your ult, and let the right mouse button handle the rest.
  • Mercury's Treads Why this? Tenacity. That's why. Yi' becomes very fragile when he is stunned. So obviously minimizing the stun time makes sense. Plus, the only other boots that you might want to get would have been the Berserker's Greaves, but with the items included in this build the tenacity and magic resistance far exceed the usefulness of the Berserker's Greaves.
  • The Black Cleaver Why this? So you can tear down tanks and destroy the little armor squishy hero's have. At 30 armor, people still block about 20-25% of incoming damage. With 2 hits from The Black Cleaver, that 25% of damage reduction just became 0%, allowing you to literally dismember the hero into his grave.
  • Banshee's Veil Why this? There are so many scenarios that this is useful on Yi, I'll leave it up to my readers to visualize and acknowledge how awesome this item is on Yi. Use your imagination.

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Situational Items

Item Sequence

Youmuu's Ghostblade

Quicksilver Sash


Wit's End

Frozen Heart

  • Zeke's Harbinger Why this? This item offers a load of attack speed, great lifesteal, and some health regeneration, with most of it being in an aura! I would only get this if you have other DPS champions on your team. (I.E. Tryndamere, Trundle, Xin Zhao) I strongly encourage you to ask your teammate(s) to buy it rather than yourself, but if they refuse don't feel as if you cannot penny up and pay for it yourself. Just make sure it's use will be used by your team before buying.
  • Youmuu's Ghostblade Why this? If for some reason you aren't moving fast enough, or aren't chopping down your opponents health bar quick enough, this item is a great addition to Yi's playstyle. Just keep in mind that it is not needed for success.
  • Quicksilver Sash OR Hexdrinker OR Wit's End Which one should I get? All of these are viable alternatives for Banshee's Veil, although I do feel that most of the time, the order of importance goes as such:

    Banshee's Veil> Quicksilver Sash> Hexdrinker> Wit's End

    Note that this is not always the case---if you are facing a team where everyone has Madred's Bloodrazor, Wit's End is superior for obvious reasons.
  • Frozen Heart Why this? If you are facing a team of AD DPS champions, this item will very noticeably increase your survivability.
  • Frozen Mallet Why this? This item enables your backdooring capabilities. If there is a stalemate in mid lane that is dragging on, feel free to pick this up and split up their team by taking a side tower. It also gives you a redbuff whenever you need it, so this is a worthy item to be considered on any Yi's lineup.
  • Last Whisper Why this? Further increases your backdoor capabilities, and also tears through enemy tank armor. If they are hardcore stacking armor, this item can be prioritized over The Black Cleaver
  • Sword of the Divine Why this? The only event I get this is in 3v3 to counter that Jax-hole. Plus, the 30 armor pen from its active is nice.

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Why not use Critical Strike?

Why wouldn't I get critical strike? Its great on Yi!
Look, I know its a hard habit to break, but Critical Strike is not a good thing to build on Yi. It is too expensive to be viable early game, too random to ensure victory mid game, and leaves you squish after you finish Infinity Edge late game.

Expensive? Your supposed to farm your *** off anyways, just buy that instead.

The difference is HUGE. It takes you nearly twice as long to get to a sustained Critical Strike Yi build than it does to get to my build endgame, which still offers an outstanding amount of damage output. Plus, my build utilizes Lifesteal, Slow, Tenacity, and Armor Penetration, while the Critical Strike Yi builds to run faster than necessary and keep Critical Strikes happening always. To me, Critical Strike (Such as from Youmuu's Ghostblade) is a nice little bonus, and not something you should depend on to get your kills.

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Game Play

Early Game

In 5v5: Lane top or bottom with a partner. You are an easy champ to zone if you are alone, so having a tank/ranged partner should keep you within the EXP zone. Remember to last hit as much as you can and use Alpha Strike to harass.

In 3v3: Take the top lane by yourself. You should be able to dance with whoever you are put up against, but if your opponent is obviously stronger than you (I.E. Mordekaiser, Jax) just farm and keep them in check. They can dominate the lane and you know it, but its your job to inform them that you will hurt them if they try. Remember to last hit as much as you can and use Alpha Strike to harass.

Mid Game

You want to get Red Buff ASAP. It is Yi's greatest asset when in his possession. Until you get (If you get) Frozen Mallet, try to grab Red Buff whenever it appears. If you farmed successfully, you should have Bilgewater Cutlass by now, so you can gank like a mad man, wander the jungle, or push your lane to get to your endgame items as quick as possible. Remember to use your Cutlass when you gank; it will double the chance of your success.

Late Game/Team Fights

In 5v5: Its time to push. This is the point where both teams fight it out to see who emerges glorious. Your job is to push side lanes and mop of enemy champions left after team fights. Don't get too courageous (Tower Dive), but try to stop that 380 HP Urgot from running away. How much time you spend away from the middle lane pushing the sidelanes depends on your teams composition. If they can hold mid without a #5, feel free to push your *** off in a side lane and make the enemy split their team. That way, your team will kill whoever remains defending mid while you Highlander away from your pursuers.

In 3v3: I play Yi like an initiator in 3v3. I walk in next to my Bulky friend, wait for everyone to throw their Stuns, fears, and launches at me (Beware of Annie), and I activate Meditate. During that time, everyone wants to kill me like crazy, while our ranged #3 picks them off 1 by 1, from strongest damager to tankiest, to where I proceed to pop highlander and chop their tank to pieces. Then there is an ace, and I chop their building to pieces until the game is over.

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Summary / Tips

If you want a simple version of what to do, here it is:

  • Grab a Doran's Blade
  • Grab a Bilgewater Cutlass
  • Grab a pair of Mercury's Treads
  • Grab Red Buff whenever possible
  • Grab The Black Cleaver
  • Be smart, and realize what Yi can take. I've seen too many Yi's go in and Alpha Strike the entire enemy team, and then be surprised they died.
  • Acknowledge what your team can do. If you don't have a tank, build more on the tanky side so your other members can have some more time to get their spells off.
  • Don't use your ult to travel around. Its for chasing, and if you don't have it in a chase, you will more than likely lose the kill altogether.
  • If you wait for 2-3 minions to be left in an enemy creep wave and Alpha Strike them, your Alpha Strike will also extend to the enemy champions you are laning with. This is how you harass with Alpha Strike

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Change Log

Friday, August 5th: Build created.
Friday, August 5th: Added "Why not use Critical Strike?" section.
Saturday, August 6th: Minor Spell Checks.
Tuesday, June 12: Re-did Mastery Trill.

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Proof / Notable Comments

Remember, if you liked my build, +Rep me and Vote up my guide! Thanks for reading!

Also, if you feel like I approached an aspect of this build in the wrong way, feel free to leave suggestions. My ears are open to feedback.