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Master Yi... "F*ck you, I'm a Jedi"
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Hey everybody, this is my Comprehensive Master Yi Guide. This is my first guide, so please rate me as harsh as you like... I'm a big boy, I can take the abuse (just not in the pooper, please). Master Yi is, in my opinion, one of the best Mele carries in the game. He is a jungler, nuker, turret buster, master farmer, and escape artist. That's a pretty impressive resume, if you ask me. What makes him such an important member of any team is his sheer versatility and independence. Say you are fighting a team with a Master Yi. You're in the middle of a big teamfight by the river and the enemy Yi is nowhere to be found? Wait ten seconds, and you've lost a turret. Think you've got the dragon on Treeline in the bag? Dragon's at half health, then Yi will come out of F***ing nowhere and sh*t down your throat, then take the dragon for himself. Spy an enemy Yi farming an empty lane and come to gank him with three of your buddies? Cry as he nukes down your AP carry then zips off like Forrest Gump in a samurai suit, cackling his head off and Flipping your Ziggs the bird as he says "F*ck You" to those puny little slow bombs he couldn't give two sh*ts less about. And your Exhaust. And Nunu's Ult.
Its important to note that this guide isn't a set in stone rulebook, the items aren't the only things that Yi can play well (just what I've found to make him both a nuker and survivable, especially in a 1v1 scenario), but instead a suggestion on how to play. Sorry about the wall-of-text-y ness of this guide, there is just sooooo much to talk about. Enjoy!
*Glyh of malice- .28% crit chance x9 (2.5%)
*Quint of malice- 1.86% crit chance x3 ( 5.6%)
*Seal of malice- .42% crit chance x9 (3.8%)
Total of 16% crit chance at level 1 and an additional 20% damage from crits... wtf. That means that about every 6th attack will be a crit that will hit for well over 200 at level 1. What. The. Hell. The marks of furor really make the build, thats pretty much quint level power, only you get three times as many. Freakin. Ridiculous. All the crit you do with the lifesteal means if you have ANY idea how to play Master Yi your early game will be absolutely unbeatable. USE THE BUSHES AND ALPHA STRIKE TILL THEY ARE DEAD. Or ragequit and leave cause you take a quarter of their health in one shot. Keeping people at their base cause they have low life is just as effective a strategy as just straight up killing them. They still can't farm, and they leave the lane unopposed to you so you can farm unharassed. You could also scrap the marks of furor and get marks of malice as well and bump it to straight 20% crit chance. Or do that and switch the Quint for Furor. Good build either way. Pretty much just work on crits chance so that you have early game lane dominance, but avoid stacking too much crit damage unless you have a decent crit chance.
Ok, actually, it's more like an item guideline. Master Yi works alot on attack speed and crit, so those two are pretty freakin important to focus on, but there is room for other things as well as long as you are always working on AS and Crit. What may seem counter intuitive given these facts is the first item I suggest buying, a Vampiric Scepter. I've found that Yi usually gets paired up with another nuker that needs fed in 3v3, and longer staying power in lane is always important in 5v5, and a little life steal helps with either of those, especially in Treeline when the other person doesn't look at your item list before he decides to go balls to the wall and engage you, and figures out the hard way that you've made sure you can survive that initial encounter by outlasting him. After getting the vampiric scepter and staying in your lane awhile, hopefully getting a kill or two in the first 7 minutes, your first trip back you should be able to get your Berserkers Greaves flat out. After that, your next trip back you should be able to finish you Wriggles Lantern. Why wriggles? Because its awesome early game. It gives attack damage, lifesteal, and armor! PLUS it helps you farm creeps faster, PLUS it has a built in rechargeable ward to help prevent ganks and help YOU gank! ITS F*CKIN AWESOME!!! You should have Wriggles by the ten minute mark, if not sooner. The extra armor makes Master Yi even more survivable, which is infuriating to a frustrated laner trying to take you down.
Next, get another vampiric scepter. When you can afford that, you may want to check with your lane partner and/or rest of your team to see if they can afford to lose you for a little bit. It's time to JUNGLE! The reason for this is that you need quick cash without much risk. You're BF sword is the most expensive single item in your build (bet you can't guess what YOU'RE building at this point) and you need over 1600 gold to get it. Plus, snagging red and blue buff while you're running around makes GREAT gank fuel. Usually at this point things are starting to heat up a bit, so you can hide, be a sneaky little ninja, and kill a few people from the bushes as you're jungling. Doing things this way shouldn't take more than five minutes to get all the gold you need, assuming youve had at least one kill in the jungle. Get your BF sword, then get in the fight! If you've been fed at this point (which I hope you have) you should be a scary sight. A thousand gold to finish off the Bloodthirster should come quickly. After you grab it, dip out for a couple of minutes, jungle a little more or hit an open lane, and feed your little bloody tree. After you get it to half power, it should be safe to start nuking people again, and really getting your gloves dirty in teamfights (Because there WILL be teamfights at this point, 20-25 minutes in).
Phantom Dancer is next. I suggest buying Zeal first. You should be able to eat your way through creep waves at this point, and jungling never takes more than a few seconds at each group. Phantom dancer should come quickly (assuming your Bloodthrister is still fed). After getting it, you swing WAY faster, move WAY faster (almost 500 movement speed WITHOUT Highlander), and have better crits. Honestly, I don't usually get past this item, games are over before I get the chance, one way or the other. But, if for some obscene reason I haven't eaten the other team for lunch by now, I usually go for Infinity Edge. Past that... well, its up to you, and the situation you're in. A few items I have found to be very useful are Madred's Razor, Zeke's Herald, Frozen Mallet (kind of), and Youmuu's Ghostblade. What I suggest doing tho is buying the Zeke's Herald, then if the game is STILL going on and you have more cash than you know what to do with, sell the Wriggles and buy Madred's Razor. So, if your game has lasted a freakin HOUR your final build should be Madred's Razor, Berserker's Greaves, Bloodthirster, Phantom Dancer, Infinity Edge, and Zeke's herald. However, Frozen Mallet and Youmuu's Ghostblade are also viable options for the first and last items. That being said, i DO feel that berserkers greaves, bloodthirster, phantom dancer, and infinity edge are all cornerstone items in the Yi build. This build takes a little skill, since the absence of much survivability other than lifesteal makes Master Yi a bit of a glass cannon.
The reason why I say Frozen Mallet is only an "ok" item is that it gives two things you dont really need all that much, health and enemy slow. Your lifesteal at the 40 minute mark should make you nearly unbeatable at 1v1, and an irritating little a$$hole in the middle of a teamfight, so adding health isn't really doing much for you. And when you're shufflin' around at almost 500 movement speed, no one else in the game can reliably run away from you (Kennen can jack his speed up to a bit over 600 when he uses his lightning dash, but that's a very brief spell, and Miss Fortune just cries in your general direction). And that's assuming your Highlander isn't active. When it is, you can even tell Kennen to suck your nuts, and run his little furry a** into the ground. So, slowing the enemy has limited uses. Not to say it is totally useless. If your team is chasing an enemy champion and you're the only one fast enough to catch him (which happens fairly frequently) it would be nice to hamstring him so the rest of your hungry gang can have a bite too, especially if he still has a base turret up he's trying to make it to... assuming any of your team mates even gives two sh*ts about turrets at this point in the game. And a little extra health and staying power can help, its the difference in one spell between life and death in some cases. For this reason I have labeled this guide as a guideline, not a set in stone rock solid "Build". Every game is unique, and has its own requirements. While Master Yi is certainly one of the characters that will say "I'm building what I want, you b*tches are gonna react to ME", a little flexability is absolutely key in separating the merely "good" Yi players from the "HOLY F*CK NEVR AGAIN I HATE YOU YI!!!" Yi players.
Ok, THIS is what I think is really important to a bada** Yi player. Little tips and tricks that alot of players miss out on make a HUGE difference in game. And if you have the wrong concept on how this character functions, or if you want to be the front man, leading the charge into battle... well, you're going to spend alot of time staring at a gray screen.
The first big thing I want to point out is the range and utility of Alpha Strike early game. Alp.S actually gives Yi, who is all mele, a ranged attack, which is perfect for harassment and the whittle down that precedes the balls to the wall engagement. The trick that alot of people don't really use that much is the fact that Master Yi comes back to his original target after casting alp.s, so waiting till there are only three creeps left fairly close to your enemy champion and using alp.s on the one farthest away from him is a great way to score a hit while keeping yourself at a safe distance (and FARMING at the same time!). This also prevents you from being blasted by a turret when you pop back into existence because the enemy champion runs away as soon as he sees you coming after him with it. If you're good, you can even time your alp.s from the bushes for when the creep you target will die before your attack is finished. This will put master Yi back to his original starting location, NOT the targeted creep's location, which should be back in the bushes and untargetable, while the enemy champion has taken a hard hit and all of his creeps have been killed. This by itself will ensure you lane dominance, especially if you are paired with a champ that has a good hard cc. Keeping the creep waves against the enemy turret will also ensure they can't farm, since the turret will easily cut their cash flow in half. Be wary, though, hard pressed players will frequently call for ganks if they want to get off of their turret. Communication from and to your mid is essential to prevent deaths from happening this way. The ward on Wriggles helps as well. Oh, and USE THE BUSHES. I can't stress this point enough. Bush dominance is key to lane dominance throughout the game, and you MUST have control of them if you wish to be the god you were destined to be from the champion select screen. Being slightly squishy when not attacking makes you susceptible to a stun rush, and if they can't see you to stun you, you won't get rushed, which means you wont die, which means you win. GET IT?!?!?!?!
Once your build has progressed and you may or may not have destroyed their tower, the next phase of your development actually comes from letting yourself get pushed back to your tower. Usually this is done easily by going off for two minutes to jungle a couple of spots. The opposing champions will push your partner back in your absence, and will be occupied with trying to take your tower. Thats where you strike, where you stick your sword straight up their over confident a**es. While they are pushed to within range of your turret, alpha strike from the side entrance, making sure to target the squishier of the two, and start hammering away. If your partner has a CC, hit the original target a couple of times, then chase after the other one. Between your partner, the turret, and his CC, the first champ should fall in a matter of seconds. Which leaves the last one to you, poor sap. Chasing him with Highlander and hitting Exhaust about halfway to his turret should pretty much guarantee a kill, even if you have to alp.s him and turret dive for the last hit. This strategy will only work a couple of times a game before they get wise, so make them count. After that, more than likely you will have their turret, and the game moves to mid. The same strategy also applies in 3v3. Usually you solo as Yi, so if you notice your team getting pressed, you can just merrily skip down the lane and slaughter the sh*t out of the careless buggers pushing your partner's tower, or kill them when they push your team mates back from THEIR tower. Then, if you're lucky, the person YOU have been facing will push to YOUR tower, and you can wash/rinse/repeat, since after b*tch-smacking the bottom team all your cd's will be refreshed, including your ult. Which some people don't seem to realize... Oh well, more kills for you.
Oh, and a little side note on the "all you abilities are refreshed" portion of Highlander... This is one of the most OP abilities in the game. Mid to late game, your abilities essentially HAVE no cooldown, since you kill champs within seconds of alpha striking them. But, one tip that MOST Yi players don't know, is NOT to do your base 3 again when targeting a new champion. only alpha strike to the new one. Why not hit wuju and highlander again? Well... Highlander needs to be active as long as possible. Waiting till it has expired from the first means it stays up longer, rather than wasting precious seconds by refreshing it before the effect has ended. And Wuju Style? This... is what is truly broken. After you kill an enemy champ and your CDs are reset, as long as you don't activate Wuju again and the active effect is still going... you gain a buff from it being active AND retain the passive buff, which usually goes away when you activate it. You keep them BOTH. This is a drastic increase in attack damage, and briefly turns you into a brick sh*t house. Ok, back to the action!
This "best offense is a good defense" mentality is essentially how master Yi works early game. You wait, you watch, you pick your timing, then you rape. After turrets stop becoming the biggest focus, your job becomes that of an interceptor. The Jungle is your home; you roam, you farm, occasionally going to a free lane to grab a dragged group of creeps (damn, I LOVE it when enemy teams try to drag creeps when I'm playing Yi, its free money!). In between all this farming, you keep a VERY close eye on your mini map. Watch for teamfights that could be going good, or bad, and rush in to mop up, or save the day, depending on how it was going before you showed up. It's important to realize that playing "hero" to a partner champion doesn't necessarily mean giving you life up for them. It means jumping out of the bushes at the enemy champs and giving them something ELSE to focus on for about three seconds instead of the one-quarter health Teemo they had been chasing halfway around the jungle, then putting an egg in your shoe with Highlander and beating it. You can outrun ANYBODY in game... use that to your advantage! And if they decide they don't care if they die, they want a kill... well BULLY FOR YOU! Kill their *sses before they have a chance to hurt your teammate then laugh at them when they rage over allchat. A well timed Exhaust should do the trick nicely. By the time they get to react to the fact that they are NOT going to catch their intended target, and they might as well try and kill YOU instead, you will have already taken their health down to the point that they aren't going to survive YOUR onslaught, and its game over. Being that sneaky little bastard that camps in the jungle is INFURIATING to the enemy team. Following this strategy gets you fed. What you do after you get fed is simple... make the opposing team scared sh*tless to be alone. Ever. Watch your minimap, and if you ever see an enemy champ trying to push a lane or farm, go eat him. If one is missing, check blue and red buff. If you find him there, skullf*ck him then take the buff for yourself. All this skullf*cking and *****-smacking you are doing will make the enemy team tend to... cluster. Like a scared bunch of turkeys on a farm. They will start pushing mid hard, all 5 of them, because they do NOT want to try and take you on 1v1, or 1v2.
Which leaves their lanes open, which means you get to perform ANOTHER essential role... Turret Buster. Few champions have the ability to take down a turret using means other than simply basic attacks, but master Yi has TWO abilities that help him smash turrets down faster, since wuju and highlander both simply buff the ever-loving sh*t out of Yi's basic attacks. Dragging creeps is cake, since you eat a creep wave in about five seconds by midgame. So bring a few minions along with you to a turret while the enemy team is occupied trying to smash your defending teammates, pop wuju and your ult, and have at it! in 3v3, you will drop a turret by yourself with no more than 5 creeps behind you in five seconds flat. It takes about twice that long in 5s, but ten seconds is a LONG *** time when the entire other team is across the map. This role switches the earlier "best offense is a good defense" strategy to the more traditional and cliché, "Best defense is a good offense". If you are pushing the lane hard enough, the enemy team will break off their attack to come deal with YOUR sword-swinging a**. Or at least send one person after you. If that's the case... Well, they just wasted a good push and tossed you a Scooby snack in the process. This Yi build is made to DOMINATE 1v1, and even 1v2 or 1v3 in SOME cases (I have wiped entire enemy teams in 3v3 before by myself... It can happen... BUT DONT MAKE A HABIT OF TRYING). Have I expressed enough that you DO NOT FIGHT LARGE GROUPS BY YOURSELF??? DON'T DO IT! YOU ARE A 1V1 NUKE CHAMP!!! USE THE BUSHES ALWAYS!!! BLAAARRRR!!!!!!!!!
As for where you fit in to the massive 5v5 head on head team against team fights... Avoid them (BLAR!!!!). Its bad news. Again... Wait. Be patient. Ignore your team mates that tell you to get your *** in the fight. If the fight goes good, you resume your previous roll and mop up. If it goes bad and your team is getting pushed, there will always be one or two champions out ahead of the others chasing your fleeing team mates down. THOSE are the ones you kill to save the day, and prevent a bad fight from becoming a clusterf*ck. However, if you notice their little Ashe or Vigar lagging behind in the back, and doing what they are supposed to do and keeping themselves out of the fight... Feeding time at the Zoo. Rush in, exterminate (with extreme prejudice) their AP range carry, then run like the wind. This loss in DPS does 2 things. 1, it lowers the killing power of the enemy team, and 2, it takes their attention away from their forward fight, Which can easily be a fatal mistake if your team is on its toes. If this seems cowardly to you, think about it. Your job is to surgically extract squishy, high threat targets, keep your team mates alive, and keep your opponents from feeding and leveling by keeping them on gray screen. If you have been doing your job properly, those massive team fights should easily go in your favor, and if they don't, you have the power to come in fresh as a daisy against all the battle weary opposing champs and WRECK THEIR SH*T. This is one of the few times I will say that going against multiple enemies without turret backup could be a viable option. Your nuke ability will take half-health enemies down fast enough to cripple their combined DPS, and turn a 3v1 into a 2v1 into a 1v1 very quickly... which is where you want to be. Target the lowest health enemy in these situations first to eliminate their dps, then the next, and then the next. Again, I CAN'T stress this enough, keep your fights to 1v1 as OFTEN AS POSSIBLE, YOU WILL WIN MOST FIGHTS THAT WAY. If you follow these guidelines, your kills will be high, your deaths will be low, and your assists will be middling. Your team will have number advantage about 60% of the time because of your efforts to keep the champs that decide to venture out by themselves on gray screen, and your team will have field advantage because of your demolition skills. You are Master Yi. You are a Brick Sh*t house in a Samurai Suit. Your feet are fast, but your blade is faster. You make the Jungle a scary place. You are the reason your enemies change their build strategy. You are Master Yi, the Wuju Bladesman.