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Master Yi Build Guide by PurpleOwnz

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League of Legends Build Guide Author PurpleOwnz

Master Yi: True Damage and Burst Aren't Popular?

PurpleOwnz Last updated on March 11, 2014
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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: 21

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

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Hey there fellow summoners. This guide is designed to give you the edge you need to carry games from top lane. Yi is currently one of my best champions and I play him in ranked frequently. I manage to snowball most games out of control in Gold I. If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to ask and leave them in the comments section.

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Pros and Cons


-Strong throughout the game
-Can duel most champions
-Copious amounts of true damage
-Great split pusher
-Can roam and snowball other lanes
-Makes a strong late game assassin


-Not a tank like most top lane champions
-Can be difficult to use in team fights
-Hard crowd control will ruin your day
-Snowball reliant

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1. Greater Quintessence of Attack Damage: Your best choice is three of these quints. Yi scales amazingly well with AD because the true damage component of Wuju Style increases with more AD as well as his Alpha Strike damage.

2. Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: If you decide to jungle with Yi you might consider the added movement speed instead, however, the extra mobility is wasted in lane because Yi has the highest base movement speed in the game as well as Highlander and activated items for even more speed.


1. Greater Mark of Attack Damage: Again, the best choice is flat attack damage for Yi because armor penetration is a lot less useful when you consider how much true damage Wuju Style gives.

2. Greater Mark of Attack Speed: Alternatively, the attack speed from these marks is viable if it fits your style more. These marks help your early game a fair amount and scale better with Yi's ultimate than flat AD do. The downside is this makes items like Doran's Shield and Randuin's Omen more effective against you and reduces your assassination potential late game because you only have the opportunity for a few, decisive hits.

3. Greater Mark of Critical Chance: I suggest taking one of these because you lose out on less than one point of attack damage for it and you gain the chance to crit early game which makes all-inning your opponent much easier.


1. Greater Seal of Armor: Flat armor is the best choice against most champions in top lane and helps you mitigate damage throughout the game, especially against your primary target late game, the enemy's ADC.

2. Greater Seal of Magic Resist: If you are facing a heavy magic damage opponent such as Rumble or Elise, you could take these to help make your early game laning phase easier.


1. Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: The only real option here is MR. I take the scaling glyphs rather than the flat because usually you don't need early game MR (most top lanes and junglers are physical damage these days), however, the Greater Glyph of Magic Resist works as well especially against AP opponents such as Rumble or Elise.

2. Greater Glyph of Armor: Again, against a dangerous AD opponent such as Riven, Jax, or Renekton you might consider taking armor instead to help your early game.

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Master Yi is an assassin...
His kit centers around resets late game from kills and assists. As such, I delve deep into the offensive tree and sparingly into the defensive tree to help with early game laning and eventually health stacking.

The Offensive Tree:

Double-Edged Sword : This mastery point is incredibly valuable to most melees because of the large damage increase for the marginal defense reduction. As an assassin you also need as much damage as possible.

Fury : Master Yi scales the best with a mix of AD and attack speed making these points the most valuable in the first row in the mastery tree. Attack speed also reduces the cool down of Alpha Strike because of the one second for every auto attack cool down function. Finally, this added attack speed allows you to proc your Double Strike passive more frequently.

Brute Force : Clearly Yi is AD and scales well into the late game making scaling AD an easy choice.

Martial Mastery : Although not as good as in the pre-season, the early game 4 AD is invaluable and also increases your true damage output with Wuju Style.

Executioner : Yi is an assassin and should be played like one. Therefore, being able to inflict increased damage to low HP targets only makes sense. This also couple well with Yi's reset mechanics that give him 70% of his cool downs returned upon kill or assist.

Dangerous Game : This mastery is incredibly useful on most champions and even better on those with resets. While Yi is not very mana hungry, in a team fight where he is earning resets and using Alpha Strike repeatedly, the mana costs add up. Between this and the damage you'll be taking, this mastery is invaluable to continuing and winning the fight.

Warlord : Several of the items we will be buying on Yi give AD so it only makes sense to make every purchase count for more.

Devastating Strikes : While Yi does do a large amount of true damage with Wuju Style, his Alpha Strike and the down time between Wuju Style casts and even the majority of his auto attack damage while Wuju Style is running are all physical. Picking up armor pen only makes sense.

Frenzy: Although we will only be picking up one critical strike chance item, this point is best placed here because none of the other points are as valuable. With all of the attack speed we will be building you will crit often enough to keep this mastery running for the majority of any fight anyway.

Havoc : Again, you are an assassin, damage, damage, damage.

The Defensive Tree:

Block : Great points for early game laning. They allow Yi to sustain more punishment especially against his few strong counters like Renekton and Jax.

Recovery : Health regen is invaluable, especially in the early laning phase when we are relying on a single Doran's Blade and one Health Potion to keep us alive.

Unyielding : Even better on melees than ranged champions. Either way, it's still an invaluable point to survive and win the early game and trades.

Veteran Scares: An extra 36 HP is a lot early game. Ignite does 70 true damage at level one and the only "counter" to true damage is raw HP. Having 36 HP mitigates 50% of Ignite damage.

Juggernaut : While 3% bonus HP is nothing early game, late game it becomes a hell of a lot. We build two huge HP items specifically to maximize this mastery and the health regen from Dangerous Game .

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Summoner Spells

Offensive Summoner Spell Options:

1. Ignite: One of the best summoners for any top laner or assassin looking to win lane early game. The extra damage is as much as one or two auto attacks and the reduction in healing is great when trying to fight through something like Dr. Mundo's Sadism or lots of health regen from Health Potions and a Doran's Shield.

2. Cleanse: Not really necessary on Yi because of Highlander which negates all slows. However, some hard CC could ruin your day. A possibility against a Nasus because Wither still applies the attack speed slow, or against a CC heavy team. However, I would suggest building Mercurial Scimitar if you need a cleanse.

Maneuverability Summoner Spell Options:

1. Flash: The most versatile summoner spell. Can be used defensively or offensively at any stage of the game. More useful than Ghost for hyper aggressive laners as it allows you to tower dive early game and flash away before the last tower hit kills you.

2. Ghost: While it does synergize with Highlander and helps to chase down any pesky ADCs late game, it simply isn't needed. Between Blade of the Ruined King's active, Youmuu's Ghostblade's active, tier two boots, Highlander, and the fact that Yi has the highest base movement speed in the game, the extra movement speed is redundant and the quick reactions you can get with Flash are more valuable.

Defensive Summoner Spell Options:

1. Barrier: A possibility against champions with high burst or who rely on execute moves that do more damage if you have less HP such as Riven with her Wind Slash or Elise with her Venomous Bite. However, I find that Ignite and early agression do just as well or better against these champions.

2. Exhaust: Again, could be useful against champions with high burst such as Zed or Riven, but you should really be looking to win your lane with early kills from Ignite. If you aren't confident this is a strong alternative though.

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Double Strike: This passive synergizes well with Doran's Blade because the blade refunds HP per hit. It also does well in a harassment combo with Wuju Style as it will apply the true damage twice. All on hit effects are fully applied on the second hit making items like Blade of the Ruined King even more effective on Yi.

Alpha Strike: Master Yi's Q is the largest source of his burst damage. This skill should be maxed first because it provides great harassment potential, wave clear, and burst damage. Alpha Strike also has a long cool down which decreases with levels quickly as well as being reduced by one second for every auto attack.

Meditate: Master Yi's W is his least glorious skill since the fall of AP Yi in season 3, but learning to use it at the right time is crucial. Using this skill to mitigate large amounts of burst damage is invaluable. This skill is also one of the reasons we stack HP instead of armor or magic resistance. The skill provides percent damage reduction and scales better with total HP than other defensive stats.

Wuju Style: One of a few skills that Riot has kept that give free stats. Having an additional 10% of your bonus AD for free is great and why this build focuses fairly heavily on AD items. The true damage is also amazing. This ability also costs NO mana! Do not be afraid to use it in every trade you can, but be careful not to trade without it as you are a lot weaker while it is on cool down.

Highlander: Yi's ultimate ability or R. It gives him incredible potential to kill carries in team fights because it removes all movement speed slowing effects from Yi (however attack speed debuffs such as Wither still apply), while giving him a large movement and attack speed buff. Having one point in Yi's ultimate also means that a kill or assist will reduce all of Yi's basic ability's cool downs by 70% and if his ultimate is running it will increase the duration for another 4 seconds.

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Starting Items:

1. Doran's Blade Start: This is really your best option. As explained in the laning phase section, you will be playing hyper aggressive and going for first blood. Yi's Double Strike passive also helps to sustain with Doran's Blade better than most champions.

2. Doran's Shield Start: This item is an alternative, but with the recent nerfs I would never personally use it. Against champions such as Jax or Renekton who do counter Yi, it is a possibility for anyone not confident in their ability to lane with Doran's Blade.

First Back:

1. Doran's Blade: I recommend picking up a second Doran's Blade for damage, sustain, and increased HP. These stats will help you continue to snowball your lane.

2. Crystalline Flask: If you can't afford Berserker's Greaves, then a flask is a better choice than Boots of Speed and Health Potions. Without the added attack speed from the boots you won't win trades as hard so the sustain will be nice. With the added time between Alpha Strikes from the lack of attack speed from Berserker's Greaves, your enemy will have more time to sustain. Therefore more harassment combos and thus more mana will be required before you can kill them making the mana regen from the flask also worth having.

3. Berserker's Greaves: If you can afford these boots on your first back I highly recommend them. The only way to afford them is with first blood. The maneuverability will help to avoid ganks, the attack speed will increase your damage output by allowing you to proc Double Strike and the true damage component of Wuju Style more often, and finally, if the jungler ignores his top lane, the added movement speed will make it easier to stick to and kill your opponent again.

Second Back:

1. Bilgewater Cutlass: Going straight for Blade of the Ruined King is a waste. Yi scales incredibly well with AD and the slow from Bilge is usually enough to kill your opponent. The added attack speed, minimal lifesteal increase, and slight boost to the active component are not worth paying 1800 gold to get early game.

2. Youmuu's Ghostblade: The armor pen and CDR are not the most important stats on Yi, but the item does have critical strike chance and an active component that is perfect for Yi's kit.

Core Damage Items:

1. Blade of the Ruined King: While the stats are not the most efficient when upgrading from Bilge to Blade, late game this item is much better on Yi than any of the other lifesteal options because of its great synergy with his kit and thus it is a must buy.

2. Last Whisper: While Yi does a lot of true damage, the vast majority of his damage is still physical. The raw AD from Last Whisper is impressive and helpful as well.

Core Defensive Items:

1. Frozen Mallet: Yi has no built in CC, and while he is able to speed himself up a lot with Highlander, Blade, and Ghostblade actives, being able to slow an important target for his team is valuable as well. Not only this, but the item gives a fairly heavy amount of AD and HP increasing Yi's chasing potential, damage output, and durability.

2. Warmog's Armor: Raw HP is only acceptable on a select few champions. Yi is one of these champions. His Meditate gives percent damage reduction which is more powerful than any armor or magic resistance stacking and is much better with huge amounts of HP because the enemy team has to eat through thousands of hit points at 30% of their normal rate. HP is also important on Yi because CC is the easiest way to lock him down and kill him. Resistances help to mitigate damage, but raw HP makes you tankier over a shorter duration (the duration of crowd control effects) than resistances do.

Alternative Defensive Items:

1. Guardian Angel: Can be a much better choice than Warmog's Armor against teams with a Vayne or Kog'Maw ADC because both champions deal damage based on a percentage of their target's HP.

2. Mercurial Scimitar: The cleanse can be invaluable against teams with large amounts of CC or a champion with a single, long duration CC ability such as Malzahar's ultimate, Nether Grasp.

3. Thornmail: Against an all AD or mostly AD team this item can be more valuable than Warmog's Armor.

4. Banshee's Veil: Against an all or mostly AP team this item can be better than Warmog's Armor.

Alternative Damage Items:

1. The Bloodthirster: While Yi scales really well with raw AD, he still needs attack speed. I really don't think this item is better than Blade, especially considering Blade's active component.

2. Ravenous Hydra: While it does help with Yi's wave clear, Alpha Strike does that job just fine. It also gives less AD than BT and no attack speed. Overall, I would rather have a Bloodthirster than a Ravenous Hydra and I would rather have a Blade of the Ruined King than either.

3. The Black Cleaver: I would only consider buying this item in a team with all or mostly AD damage. Otherwise the Ghostblade active and critical strike chance is too valuable to give up for a little bit of HP and armor shred.

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Laning Phase/Early Game

Early Game:

1. Be the Bully: Against most champions, you are the boss. You should always be looking for harassment and kills. Yi's strongest harassment combo is unlocked at level two, but you should be looking for trades from level one against most champions.

2. The Harassment Combo: Prep Double Strike on minions. It requires 3 auto attacks and the 4th auto attack will hit twice (the second hit for 50% damage). A small icon appears above your skills as you auto attack. It is grey and displays the number of hits you have built up. Once you reach four it turns green. Now you should look to go in with an Alpha Strike and auto your opponent. At level two you should activate Wuju Style as you come out of Alpha Strike to proc the true damage portion twice. While Wuju Style is still active you can continue to trade, but as soon as it drops you need to back off.

3. Level Two and How to Get There: Level two in a solo lane is achieved by being present for all of the experience from the first wave of minions and killing one melee minion in the second wave. In order to hit level two before your opponent, you should auto attack minions as soon as you get to lane. This will push the wave, but that's ok. As soon as you have your Double Strike ready, Alpha Strike to your opponent and auto.

4. How Am I Doing Coach?: You should be able to perform this combo twice before the second wave comes to lane. As soon as you hit level two you should look to go all in, but hold Ignite if you don't think you'll pick up the kill. If you've done your level one properly you will be level two first and you should win this fight with ease. If you can't kill your opponent at level two, you will have chuncked them for a huge portion of their HP.

5. Ok, So Now What?: In order to achieve level three in a solo lane you must be present for the XP from waves one and two and kill all three melee creeps in the third wave. At level three, with two points in your Alpha Strike, go all in again.

6. But What if He's Under the Tower?: If you have Ignite, tower dive your opponent if they are under 50% HP. Only champions with immediate, hard CC can prevent your dive. If you still have Flash for the dive you can flash out of tower range before dying. Even if you don't have Flash, if you can guarantee a kill you should go for it. You will have a level, item, and creep advantage that you can continue to use as the laning phase goes on even after your death.

7. So I Killed Him, My Job is Done Right?: Nope, from here you should look to continue trading with your opponent constantly, but make sure to ward. If the jungler camps you now while you're still playing hyper aggressive you will lose the lane.

8. What am I Aiming For Boss?: The second kill should come before level 6 and you shouldn't need to die for it.

9. So Now I Just Sit in Top Lane and Hope My Team Wins, Right?: At level 6 you should start to look to roam to mid after you push the wave or bottom lane after you've backed to buy. Roaming is most effective after you've gotten Berserker's Greaves and Bilgewater Cutlass. This early in the game, most laners do not have boots so you will have a huge speed advantage with Highlander running. Combine this with the slow and burst increase from the Cutlass active and stats and you will be able to guarantee a kill or more in any lane that is being pushed towards your team.

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Mid Game

The Mid Game: Whatever you do, if you've managed to get two or more kills on your lane opponent, quit wasting your time in top lane.

1. In solo queue ranked games... Most teams cannot respond to a heavily fed, roaming Yi. If you stay top lane to continue pressuring your opponent, you only help so much. If you've already gotten a couple of kills and a 20 CS lead, start roaming.

2. Where To Roam: Mid lane and bottom lane are obviously your two choices. It's best to roam mid if you push your wave to the tower but can't afford anything worth backing for. If you just backed and got your cutlass, then bottom lane is a good choice if your team is being pushed to their half of the lane.

3. What To Do In Mid: Obviously killing the enemy mid laner is your most desirable outcome, but even if you can't, there's more to be done. Try to get your jungler to come mid at the same time. If all three of you live and force the enemy out of lane, take the tower. Even if you gank by yourself and your mid dies in the process, push to the tower and get some damage on it.

4. What To Do In Bottom Lane: Bottom lane is a lot trickier to gank than mid. It's best to not come down here until you've gotten your cutlass. Assuming you have it, the simplest way to get a kill is ping your target, hope your support CCs them, and run in with Highlander active and burst the enemy down before they know what hit them. If your lane is pushed to the half way point or further, lurking in the brush can work, but be careful not to waste too much time.

5. If Bottom Lane Goes Swimmingly: Assuming you get a kill or force the bottom lane to back, get the jungler's help and take the tower or Dragon or both. Always remember that kills are important, but getting objective is a better roam than just picking up a kill.

6. What If No Lanes Are Easy to Gank?: Then force Dragon . You're ahead of your lane opponent so even if they make it to a Dragon fight your team should still win.

7. But My Tower!!!: Don't be afraid to let top tower fall. This isn't to say just abandon ship, but if you can take another tower somewhere else or Dragon , then let that top tower fall. This will only make it harder for your opponent to catch back up as you will be able to push out the lane, roam for a longer period of time, and respond to a top lane push with friends to help you kill your enemy.

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Late Game

To Split Push or Not to Split Push:

1. Yi Is So Good At Splitting, Why the Hell Not?: The ultimate quandary for any new Yi players. Yi is one of the best split pushers in the game, capable of dueling enemies, wave clearing, and destroying towers faster and better than most any other champion, but it's not always the right choice.

2. CC, or no CC?: Against enemy team comps with lots of CC, split push and ward everything. You don't want to team fight because CC is the bane of Yi's existence, but you also don't want to get caught out and killed. Make sure to ward up all around you so you have plenty of warning to get out. If you do get ambushed, never be afraid to burn everything to get out. Highlander, Youmuu's Ghostblade, and Blade of the Ruined King all have very short cool downs. It's better to blow three, sixty second cool downs and live than to die trying to be greedy.

3. I'm Impatient and Fed: Against enemy team comps without much CC, grouping and pushing mid is a quick and easy way to win. Without CC to stop you, you should be able to roll over the enemy carries. If you can kill both the ADC and mid laner before dying, you've done your job and your team will be able to finish the fight with all of that global gold advantage from your mid game roaming.

4. "OMG Team, Five Top, Why no Map Pressure?": Always be sure to communicate with your team before you start splitting. You need to say "I'll split top, can you guys group as 4 mid and push?" Or "I'll draw them top, can you guys get Dragon and bottom tower?" If you say nothing and start passively splitting while no one else is pressuring an objective you will die for nothing repeatedly.

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In Summary/More to Come

I hope you all enjoyed the guide. I plan to eventually make a lane matchups section, but I was more concerned with the basics first, including the mentality of a successful Yi player. If you have any comments or questions, feedback is welcome in the comments section. However, I'll warn you now, the appearance of the guide is not my biggest priority. I would rather have a decent looking guide that has excellent information than the other way around.