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Tahm Kench Top - The River Runs Red
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Threats & Synergies
This guy, seriously, screw this guy. He sustains very hard and can just poke you for days while hanging out in the minion wave. You stand a chance if he tries to all in you so long as you have more than half health, but a good vlad won't do that as he easily has the tools to bring your health lower while staying safe.
Despite being the "official counter" to tahm according to riot, I've yet to meet a gnar who could really kill him. Avoid his boomerangs and W procs, his auto attacks don't hurt but his procs do. Don't be too afraid to trade some hits with him in mega gnar form, its easy to get your passive up on him and devour for some serious damage. Level 6 is in your favour so long as you don't get ulted into a wall, and even then he lacks the damage needed to kill you unless you're below half health.
Get cloth armor/doran's shield and laugh as he futilely throws his twigs at you. Before items he lacks meaningful damage against you and you win all ins with devour +the fact that your autos apply your passive through his shield. When he pokes you, don't be afraid to poke back with Q, he'll run out of mana much faster than you will. He gets a powerspike in the mid game with damage/armor pen, but his ult being useless in duels hurts him enough that it isn't much of an issue so long as you don't get arrogant. This is in the yellow because pantheon will always control the flow of combat, hes faster than tahm and he can kite through minions, also giving him a kill snowballs him since there isn't much counterplay to his kit. So I repeat, DON'T GET ARROGANT.
This lane swings hard both ways depending on who gets the first kill. Both tahm and cho'gath can build defensive items and still scale offensively, and if either lands their CC first, they're almost always gonna win the trade. I edge this slightly in cho's favour as he doesn't need much positioning to throw out his CC. If cho is stomping mid game you can still kill him by using devour to bring him under your tower for some bonus damage.
Tough but not unmanageable. Smart garen players will use his silence to just smack you then spin away. Your job is to get as many autos on him as you can while silenced to setup for your Q then W. Post level 6 be very aware of his ultimate damage, you'll most likely need to save your E for mitigating it. Tahm's tanky enough that garen has a hard time killing him, but that goes both ways.
Zone him from farm and fight him if he tries to start anything. Your dps is stronger than his in the early game and his only way to compete is with stacks. Keep him off cs and freeze the lane so he has to deal with you. If he becomes a threat late game you can shut him out of fights with devour.
Your all ins are a lot better than his as you have higher sustained dps and CC. A really good renekton player will know this and use his slice and dice to determine trades. That being said, if he doesn't have a minion wave to hide beihnd it can be pretty easy to just run him into the ground with tongue lashes.
Somewhat in your favour due to the fact that you have hard CC, while she doesn't. That being said her ult is nothing to sneeze at, as it makes her dps and tankiness significantly higher. If you use your stacks and CC wisely though you can come out on top.
He's just as tanky as you are and his cc goes through minions. He can shove the wave aggresively under your tower and make it difficult for you to last hit. His main weakness is that he's super gankable, especially pre level 6, and you have the tools to help facilitate said gank. You can also shut him down in teamfights easily. Other than that though this is a very tough lane.
Ignite is mandatory in this lane. His poke hurts, but he's slow so forcing all ins isn't much of a challenge. The main key to winning is avoiding his snare. If you can do that you're set.
Skill matchup, duh. Whoever gets their passive stacks up first wins.
You crap all over his damage output. Once you have devour you win all ins by default. His pillar makes him decent at setting up ganks, but that's all he's got.
You need to get atleast one passive stack on her before she all ins, else she'll just style on you and walk away scot free. If you devour her and end the trade there, you win, but extended trades after that are in her favour.
This douche will throw knifes at you all day and there's nothing much you can do to stop it. That being said he can't kill you, so it's not all bad. Take tp in this lane to help keep up with him or just stay in lane through all the harass he has. A decent shen won't give you a chance to kill him, but yet again, that swings both ways.
Start Doran's shield. All xin has is his all in, and you beat him at that. Only tricky part is maaaaybe level 1 before you get devour, after that landing it wins every trade with him.
In lane, malphite is actually really easy, you simply wreck him in 1v1 scenarios and he has no choice but to run away or get eaten. But the issue with him is that no matter how far you set him back, he's always gonna be powerful in a teamfight, as you can't really stop his CC if he's smart.
Riven is strong, she can determine the flow of combat very well with her high mobility and she actually outtrades you early on if you let her get enough hits on you. The reason this isn't higher up in difficulty is that this lane can actually swing in your favour pretty quickly if she screws up. Tahm's itemisation ruins rivens ability to trade with him as the game goes on if she isn't ahead. Don't die, wait for an opportunity,and you can come out on top.
He can outplay you from level 1, he's very hard to land a tongue lash on and his knockup interputs your ability to activate thick skin. Despite all of this Tahm's beefiness will still be very high vs Yas, even if behind. Dont fight him without devour, it ain't pretty.
You both poke around minions, but he can use flame spitter to make fighting inside minions uncomfortable. Try and get stacks of your passive up on him before a fight with tongue lash and avoid being aggressive when he has 50% heat, his dueling power is huge at that time. His ult hurts massively and you don't have much means of escaping it, so one on one fights post level 6 are in his favour somewhat, but the damage on your poke gets similarly massive at that stage, so just poke away.
And this is my guide to Toplane Tahm: The River King.
Tahm is a powerful tank in top lane, being able to poke, zone and all in his opponents with ease. The damage of his Devour in trades makes him a force to be reckoned with in one on ones, and also makes him an incredible anti tank in the late game by just shutting the enemies frontline out of a fight all together. Even when behind he has the tools to assist the rest of his team in surviving, getting to where they need to be or just locking down his opponents. When ahead he does all of these things while also being able to get kills himself and requiring an entire team to take down thanks to his great lategame scaling with Devour's passive.
If you feel I have made some malodorous errors, feel free to regurgitate some enlightenment in the guides forum. I strive to keep my guide updated and optimal and will take any critiques gracefully. Credit where credit is due, this guide is based off of Dariens play style with tahm, as well as my own observations.
So without further ado, here is Tahm: The River King.
+ Tanky anti-tank
+ Great anti-burst
+ Devour makes sustained trading fun :D
+ Can Shut enemies out of fights
+ Building defensively scales offensively
+ Can do his job even when behind.
|Tahm Kench, having been designed to also work as a support has enough utility that even if he loses his lane he won't be neutered in the process. His Devour is an incredible multi purpose tool for saving your carries or decimating your opponents, and Thick Skin stops burst in its tracks. Finally Devour makes him one of the best scaling dps tanks in the game.|
- A slow walker
- An Acquired Taste is an acquired taste.
- Stuns/knockups prevent Thick Skin
- His CC is all single target.
- Lacks natural hard engage.
Tahm Kench lacks the ability to deal aoe CC, meaning he can't be the teams only supply of it unlike some tanks (unless the enemy also lacks CC). Hard crowd control can cancel half of his tankiness due to Thick Skin needing to be activated. Faster enemies can avoid getting stacks of An Acquired Taste on them. Finally, Tahm Kench needs movespeed quints, as without them he's slow as molasses.
When To Pick Tahm Kench
Grasp of the Undying:
A straight forward keystone mastery, the max health damage works well with Tahm who is obsessed with health stacking, which coincidentally is also something this keystone loves as well, as every time it is procced it increases his max health. It's the beautiful circle of life.
The choice here is based on how reliant the enemy laner is on cc, how much cc the enemy team as a whole has and whether or not you're running Ignite. If you want to run Teleport and the enemies in general have no cc, then take Demolish to help push towers. However if the enemy botlane/mid have cc and you plan on ganking down bot with Teleport it can be worth taking Unflinching to power up your ganks and team fighting. Unflinching is also good when you're running Ignite as you can activate it in the middle of a fight with your laner, amping up your all in potential against stun reliant enemies like Jax. Note: Unflinching does not affect self slows like tahm's Devour.
Iron Skin/ Mirror Shell/ Conditioning:
If you're against an aggressive AD laner like Riven, take Iron Skin. If you're against an aggressive ap laner like Swain take Mirror Shell. If you're not against an aggressive laner, take Conditioning.
Overgrowth/ Second Wind:
More max health is just amazing on tahm so obviously Overgrowth is generally going to be the best pickup here, but on the odd occasion that you end up in a lane vs ranged harass (see Jayce, kennen, swain, etc) then Second Wind along with tahms healing passive from Thick Skin will let him soak up the blows for quite a while.
Makes you move faster, which is good, as Tahm Kench has about the same amount of mobility as Mordekaiser. That is, none at all. This also allows him to spec into raw tank items early on while making him a little faster as the game goes on due to their slightly higher ms compared to regular boots.
A powerful speed boost that not only more than makes up for the lack of early boots when chasing, but after ten minutes syngergizes with them, making tahm obnoxiously sticky.
> Objectively the best summoner spell. One could make a case for Ghost being better for chasing, but that just doesn't change how powerful this spell is. Get it, every game.
> Some would say this spell is quite aggresive. Those people would be correct. This spell gives much more kill potential in lane. I generally take this top as Tahm Kench's ult essentially fulfills the purpose of Teleport once mid game rolls around. That being said, if you take this it's your duty to be vigilant that your enemy laner, should they take Teleport, doesn't get enough space wherein they can tp out of lane for free. This is an aggresive spell, be aggresive with it.
> Its a toss up between getting this or Ignite. Teleport allows one to gank bottom lane during the early game and increases one's map pressence for the rest of the game. Good if you don't see any kills happening in your lane and wish to focus your efforts elsewhere.
> This passive gives you immense damage and sets up all of Tahm Kench's other attacks. It's the entire reason he can build full tank and still do damage, and the stacks are a great zoning tool as enemies fear engaging when they've been tagged with them. A single Tongue Lash or minion launched by Devour can be enough to zone an enemy off of you farm, giving you the cs advantage. Using this passive is all about punishing your enemy, either by taking their farm when they run, or taking their lives when they don't.
> Your first skill and the first skill you max. The reason one gets it first is that it helps with csing, trading, poking, chasing and escaping. It also does all of these things without any need to get stacks of An Acquired Taste on a target. Because it's so reliable (and also the fact that it scales well with levels) it's the best skill to max first. You can use this to slowly poke and build up stacks on an opponent, or you can weave it into your auto attacks to get stacks rapidly. The basic, guaranteed 3 stacks combo is AA-Q-AA. Its the fastest combo as it allows for your second auto attacks CD to reset (yes I said auto attacks have a CD, they do, that's how auto attack resets work). If you find yourself having three stacks on an opponent and your Q is off cooldown, use it before devour to get an extra Auto attack in.
> This is Tahm's swiss army knife, useful in almost any situation, barring a solo tactical retreat(but he has something else for that, so it's cool). So, going through the uses in order they will most likely be used in:
1: Using Devour against an enemy champion is devastating in one-on-one trades. The percent health damage will always be relevant and the waiting period is long enough to get your Tongue Lash off of its cooldown. That being said, its best to spit your enemy out quickly, as waiting gets the enemies abilities off their CD too. You can also use it to drag them under turret, or hold them still for a gank. If one of your opponents gets big in late game you can use it to shut them out of the fight, assuming that getting An Acquired Taste stacks on them is doable.
2: Clearing waves/poking. A means of rapid wave clear is important, and this is tahms. make sure to aim it though as the aoe isn't too big and you can end up only hitting a couple of minions if you mis-aim it.
3: Saving your teammates butts. Late game you become a semi support. You'll still be brawling it out on the frontlines doing decent damage and tanking like a boss, but you'll also be able to totally nullify enemies attempts to kill a squishy target. This also lets you escape or engage better depending on the situation and who you're carrying.(Note: people do not like being eaten, they can and will eject themselves from you as soon as they are allowed. You may need to warn them that doing so when they are at 10hp may not be in their best interest. This has happened way too often to be funny anymore).
>Definition of a one point wonder right here. A great anti-harass sustain tool as well as an anti-burst shield. The shield aspect really helps with surviving ganks, while the passive helps negate alot of poke damage in lane. In teamfights this is your go-to survival tool, and in lane this lets you extend fights longer than your opponent would like. The best time to use this ability largely depends on the matchup, but the rule of thumb is the bigger the damage it can stop, the better.
> Its good, not great early game, but it becomes more useful as the game goes on. It's pretty decent for ganking, though the range at level one is short enough you'll still have to see an opportunity coming early in order to capitalize on it. It gets better with levels though, and it's also very good if you can bring someone with CC along for the ride. Unless you can get some alone time it isn't good for escaping due to the long windup and the fact that it's so easy to cancel. Still, a solid active that lets you be where you need to be, and maybe pull of some backdoor shenanigans with your teams adc.
This is for when you're up against an ap opponent. Unlike the old Crystalline Flask this doesn't let you get other potions with it for lots of sustain, but it does give you combat stats, so if you get this you gotta be aggressive with it.
You're against an AD opponent? pick up this and 4 Health Potions. Boom, you have sustain and trading potential. It even builds into one of your core items, what more could you ask for?
> Your go-to Anti AP starting item. This is pretty much excellent at any stage of the game if your against AP. It gives big Magic resistance, 10%CDR, 400 health and a very powerful sustain passive. The bonus damage you get from this +8/16/24/, but the real synergy here is with Thick Skin, as it pumps up the sustain passive from 20% to 24% at level 1, and at level 5, turns it from 44% to 53%. Not to mention healing from other sources such as Health Potions and whatnot. Pick up this and watch mages weep at your sustain.
Dead man's plate
> The new Randuin's Omen, general purpose defense item since the juggernaut patch. This item solves Tahm Kench's problem with getting to (or away from) his meals in a timely manner, as well as giving some armor and a big dollop of health on the side making it a solid general defensive item. But it's also a very strong offense item, giving tahm the ability to chase down enemies much faster, setup his following autoattacks more easily with the slow, and the passive damage gives him a little more burst. Of all the items in the game, it also has the second highest health stat behind Warmog's Armor at 600hp. That means the bonus damage sits at +12/24/36.
> This is the best Health+Armour option in the game early on, besides Dead Man's Plate, and the best time to get it is in the early game. The stats it gives are good for the cost and the aura seriously increases your dps and wave clearing speed. Not to mention it also gives +9/18/27 magic damage to all of your attacks and abilities. Pickup Bami's Cinder first if you have the option between that and Chain Vest, the dps increase from that alone is pretty noticeable.
> This is what people in the magic the gathering community would refer to as a "Win-more-carddd..er...item". Essentially, it's really good at pushing an advantage, but it won't get you that advantage to begin with, different items do that better. The fact that this doesn't provide resistances in exchange for damage shaves seconds off of tahm's survivability, not super bad in one on ones, but if you're getting ganked you'll die faster. The one situation where this is definitely good is when you absolutely need to waveclear faster than your enemy. If building this, immediately go for a resistances item afterwards, it might even be best to push Warmog's Armor to the sixth slot to help make up for the resistances deficit, since you'll still be scaling up Titanic Hydra's damage with the health from the resistance items anyway. The bonus damage on this is +10/20/30, as well as +1% additional scaling on auto attacks. The rend active does 10%hp damage, that's alot and is the reason this is good, if you're winning.
> A big chunk of armor and health, with a passive that lowers attack speed and an active that lowers movespeed. It even lowers critical strike damage. Once you have this adc's without true damage just stop being a problem (>:I Vayne). The bonus damage is +8/16/24.
> DID SOMEBODY SAY BIG HEALTH!?!? Yes, yes we did. A good pickup vs all types of damage, pick this up after you've gotten some raw defenses IE: magic resistance and armor. The health pool this gives is huge, and the passive healing is immense, especially when coupled with Spirit Visage, as the passives stack. The bonus damage on this bad boy is +16/32/48, holy **** that's big. Since you'll likely be rocking between 3000-4000hp mid-late game, the healing this gives out of combat is 90-120hp per second.
> If you just want more raw health after Warmog's Armor and specifically need to counter the enemies burst, then Sterak's Gage is for you. It's not bad per se early game, but it simply gets outclassed by it's competition of Sunfire Aegis and Spirit Visage. Like Titanic Hydra this item also provides zero resistances. This makes it a really circumstantial pickup. Tahm Kench doesn't benefit from ad all that much, so the passive has to make up for both the lack of resistances and the cost of the AD, which means you pretty much have to get Warmog's Armor either before or immediately after you get this. Honestly, just because it provides good health, doesn't make it a good item for Tahm Kench, he does in fact need more than that. Bonus damage sits at +10/20/30.
> Gotta go fast. If your teams needs engage, or your just having serious issues sticking to your enemy, then this'll help. This item lacks the defensive stats of other items in this guide in exchange for the raw power of its active. It's pretty good for simply smashing your team into your enemies or chasing down low health targets. That being said it's got a 90 second CD, so try to time it wisely. The bonus damage from this is +10/20/30.
> Is some snarky mage still giving you woes? Well then fear not for I have an absolution. Banshee's Veil provides a means of negating any crowd control effects that may be pestering you, as well as giving a chunk of health and magic resist. A good option if the enemies outputting crazy amounts of ap. Bonus damage is +9/18/27.
> Are they ALL AD? Welp, time to call in the big guns. Here's a ****ton of armor, coupled with some mana and a hefty serving of CDR on the side. Since you don't get any bonus value from this due to the lack of health in it, I recommend building it after Sunfire Aegis, Dead Man's Plate and Randuin's Omen but by god, after you get this if you aren't the most impregnable anti-ad monster out there I would be seriously surprised.
> Like frozen heart, but more offensively driven. It gives you sheen procs and a nice slow to help you stick to your opponents better, but in exchange gives less armor and cdr. So I would use it in the same situation as Frozen Heart (ie: against all AD), but with the slight condition that you already have Frozen Heart, or you're winning and just want to crush your opponents.
Locket Of The Iron Solari
> Super strong against multi-ap comps. The thing about it though, is that it's normally picked up by the support. If your support doesn't buy it however (maybe they're going full ap Soraka or something) then it isn't a bad item at all for tahm to pickup. It gives CDR, health, magic resistance and hp regen in an aura, as well as having an active that shields allies from all types of damage. Really strong, but as noted, usually picked up by the support. Bonus damage is +8/16/24.
Manifesting A Meal
The goals of laning are pretty simple:
Get more cs than your opponent
Get more kills than your opponent
Get more towers than your opponent
Enemy: Melee, weaker all in
This is the best lane for tahm and by far the easiest to deal with. If the enemy can't harass you, that'll force them to stay in their minion wave to avoid your Tongue Lash. However, it isn't too hard for you to just walk into your own minion wave and start auto attacking your enemy. Once you start getting stacks of An Acquired Taste on them, they'll either realize the danger and run, thus zoning themselves from cs, or they won't notice the danger and get Devoured, while you continue to cs with them in your belly. You might even be able to follow it up with some well placed Tongue Lashes for a free kill. This is just a win-win situation all round.
Enemy: Melee, Stronger all in
Not too common, but sometimes hard CC or super strong duelling power means Devour isn't gonna cut the mustard in brawls. When that happens we lean back on Tongue Lash to get the job done. If the enemies zoning you from cs through the threat of their damage, use Tongue Lash to harass their health down and to grab cs. Most laners who are strong early fall off as the game goes on, so don't be too afraid to just go passive in this lane. If you want kills, only go in when your opponent is low or you've got a gank coming. It doesn't matter if an opponent is stronger than him, tahm can still keep most opponents locked down for quite some time.
Enemy: Ranged, weak harass
You're going to have to be more proactive in this lane. Ranged enemies have an easier time with csing than others, so in order to zone them you'll need get ahead of your minion wave and repeatedly slap them with Tongue Lashes until they get the idea. 90% of the time, being ranged will mean they sacrificed all in power, so if they go for a fight, give it to them, but don't be surprised if they don't feel like committing suicide. Unless the enemy screws up, you'll probably just end up getting a lot of cs and poking your enemy a lot without getting much kills. But that's assuming your enemy doesn't screw up.
Enemy: Ranged, Strong harass
If the enemy can out harass Tahm, he needs to be either very aggresive or he's gonna have troubles. Even if you just zone your enemy from cs, they're gonna get your health low faster than you can get theirs down, so the goal here isn't to zone, but to kill early on, if you're not confident you can do that, well then just go super passive and try not to die, there's really no middle ground here. If you choose aggression, use the slow from Tongue Lash to close some distance on them and start getting stacks on them. If they run try to drag the chase out a little so that you can get a second Tongue Lash on them, as they'll likely turn around and smack you with their harass after you give up the ghost, and hitting the enemy twice will almost always be better than their one counter attack. That being said, if the second Tongue Lash looks to be out of range, just don't do it, chances are you're also out of your enemies range as well and there's no point in wasting mana. If you can get a Devour of on them, good job, but be wary of their retaliation.
If you can't get the kill/get killed:Roll over, the enemies gonna get a bunch of gold, and now you have to play as passively as possible. Do your best to just not give away any more kills and try to go even on cs. Call for ganks when the enemy starts pushing.
Enemy: Strong Harass, stronger all in
Just farm and pray, farm and pray.
Devour is also very useful for turning the tide of smaller skirmishes that are a great distance from you, particularly if you can bring a partner. It also helps with splitpushes and objective control. If you have huge cc bots like Nautilus and Sejuani on your team you can also use it to split apart an enemy team if timed particularly well.
For moment to moment positioning, a small mental exercise that helps is to imagine lines stretching from Tahm Kench to anyone else on your team you would consider a frontliner, or at least peeler for your main carry. You can use these lines to help determine weak points in your teams defense, if an enemy has a clear line of sight to your carry that you can't immediately cut off, then that's a weakness that needs to be addressed. In terms of positioning relative to your carry in a teamfight, you want to be close, but just far away enough that any potential aoe CC cannot affect both you and the carry at the same time. This forces the enemy team to choose between who to use their abilities on, and allows Tahm Kench the luxury of being able to save his carry with Devour, should they get caught out and CC'd.
Also credits to Darien who made me interested in playing Tahm top, and who's playstyle was the original basis for this guide.
Finally thank you the reader for getting this far (unless you skipped to this part like a dirty cheater), I really appreciate that you took the time to read this and hope it brings you good fortune :)
Oh and if you like this guide why not give it a +1 or whatever, would appreciate that, yup.