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Master Yi Build Guide by Rytex

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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 Rytex

Yi, Alpha Striking Ace

Rytex Last updated on February 11, 2012
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Jungle Role
Ranked #23 in
Jungle Role
Win 48%
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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

Honor Guard

Defense: 0

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 9

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Master Yi is a really decent champion to start off as a League of Legends player. In the right hands, he can be a one-man army, and in the wrong hands, he can be a helpless dead weight. This build for him capitalizes on his Alpha Strike to the point of spam.

The first things to remember about Yi is that for the first parts of the game, he is NOT fit for ganking, in any way, non-negotiable, enjoy dying if you do not agree. Once he gets to around level 6 will he be fit for fighting with other champions in the area, but until then, hug your turrets like Annie hugs her demonic teddy bear from hell, and leech off the experience your minions will provide.

The second thing to remember is that Yi is NOT powerful until about mid-game. Once he gets a Phantom Dancer and the Bloodthirster will he be able to do some serious damage. The Phantom Dancer will make him fast enough to wipe out even the Tank minions in a matter of moments, and the Bloodthirster will enable him to fight champions longer, leeching their health as you whittle theirs away.

The third thing, and the most important about this build, is that Alpha Strike is a double-edged sword if used incorrectly. Alpha Strike will hit four targets for damage, placing you right next to the entity you targeted. This means that if you target a champion with three minions around him/her, Yi will hit the minions first, the champion last, and appear right next to this champion, making him gank-bait if there are two in the area. Therefore, it is a good idea to remember this when fighting as him. When up against a champion who is significantly more powerful than you, target the minion/entity furthest from these champions to give you a greater chance of escape.

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Runes, Masteries, and Items

These are rather self-explanatory, but I will go into detail about why I used what.

Runes - Yi requires a lot of speed and mana, so you want to upgrade his speed, give him more mana, and make him recover that mana faster. Everything else will come as he levels up and gets good items.

Masteries - These require little explanation other than to help build on what your runes give you.

Items - To open the game, you need to get 3 Health Potions and 9 Mana potions. You will have 10 gold left, but with this build, you are usually able to stay out longer than usual, but make sure to use them when in need. Another thing to remember about them is that using potions interrupts Meditate. By the time you have exhausted these potions, you should be in the neighborhood of 1000 gold. If you are, buy the Berserker's Greaves. If not, settle with Boots of Speed until you can get the BG.

Once you have these, you want to focus all gold on the Phantom Dancer. Buy a dagger, upgrade to Zeal, buy another dagger, and finally get the Dancer, all at the soonest available opportunity. Once you have the Phantom Dancer, you will be powerful enough to take on Champions and hold your own, but not quite powerful enough to gank them yet. That's where the next item comes into play.

Get a Vampire Scepter and you will be able to replenish health much faster as you take on enemies. As soon as possible, make this scepter a Bloodthirster. Once you have the Bloodthirster, you will be powerful enough to gank, but a little extra defense wouldn't hurt.

Now we build the Banshee's Veil. First get the Catalyst the Protector for some extra Health and Mana (among other things), and a Megatron Cloak, and finally, the Veil itself.

Lastly, you will want to get another Phantom Dancer and another Bloodthirster. With two of each, you will be faster than Lightning McQueen on a sugar rush, and each hit you do will restore 80% of the damage you do. Due to the ferocious combination of speed and life-steal here, you will probably find yourself being taken on by somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-5 champs at a time. If you were to take on 2, you would probably emerge with both of their heads as trophies, depending on what champions they were.

With that set-up, Yi should be able to gank enemies efficiently. But do NOT get too cocky. Under that build, like I said, you will probably find yourself up against their entire team at once just due to your speed and ability to heal quickly.

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Skill Sequence

The Skill Sequence with Yi isn't too hard to grasp, as this entire build revolves around the use of Alpha Strike and Meditate.

From the very get-go, you want to start upgrading Alpha Strike when possible. Every time you level up, if Alpha Strike is available, upgrade it (except Level 6). The levels where it is not available, however, you want to upgrade Meditate (except levels 4, 6, and 11). At levels 6, 11, and 16, upgrade Highlander as usual. At level 4, put a level in Wuju Style for the Attack buff, but leave it alone until the end after that.

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Summoner Spells

The Summoner Spells are designed to help Yi gank. This set-up enables Yi to slow enemies, and if they try to flash away because you're just too damn fast for them, you can flash right up to them, making it wasted. Alpha Strike is also useful for catching up, as it puts you right next to them to continue the chase.

These spells must also be put to the Defensive side as well, particularly early-game. Exhaust will slow down enemy champions, so you can make an escape, and Flash can move you further away in a moment. Highlander, especially when used with Exhaust, is a prime getaway ability, since you cannot be slowed (even by an enemy's Exhaust). However, you can be stunned, Feared, etc., so be very careful about using it against enemies like Nocturne who can use abilities to put such effects on you.

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When you are in need of quick experience or money, Jungling is a prime way to earn it. Now, this is usually only done mid-game, because of the necessity to earn Exp and Money quickly. There really is no set path. Simply go for any skull on your side of the map and kill the neutral minions. Alpha Strike makes Jungling laughably easy and effective when fully leveled and at around level 13. The main target you want is to kill the Ancient Golem with the Mana bonus, as Yi relies heavily on Mana.

Once you're around level 13, and at the Bloodthirster stage of my build as seen above, you can take on the dragon solo to help your team. It also is possible to take on the Baron solo, but I only recommend it when you are at Level 18 with at least the Banshee's Veil for the added Health and Mana.

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This is something that needs to be brought up because Yi, especially at earlier levels, can be helpless. He has low health, he is slow at earlier levels, and he goes down quickly. If someone pulls a "Leeroy Jenkins" early-battle, Yi becomes the other team's favorite target for ganking because he falls behind on levels quickly, an he can never regain them.

That is why you need to practice very patient defense with him.

For starters, as stated above, hug your turrets early-game. Force the enemy champions to come within firing range. If they bring minions, Alpha Strike the Minions, making sure to target the furthest from the enemy Champion so as to get back to a defensible position and to force the enemy to retreat when the turret starts firing on him/her.

Also, because Yi is a Melee champion, Ranged Champions can be his undoing. Particularly Caitlin. Caitlin has tremendous range with her abilities, and she has enough power to hit you hard and run while you can't do anything to stop her. Now, her ultimate in particular is something to watch out for. It locks on, and if it hits you, it will do massive damage. To counter it, you can either a) stand behind your minions, in which case it is a win-win for her, albeit less effective, because most of the damage will be dealt to your minions and less to you, or b) you can stand completely separate from them, forcing her to make a choice between the minions or you. If you pick B, KEEP MOVING. If she chooses you and you are constantly moving, it can miss if you Alpha Strike at the right moment, or if you move to the side before it gets there, it will miss, an she will have wasted an ult.

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In closing, the three things to remember about this Yi build are this.

1. Practice Defense, as stated above, early-game to about level 6.

2. Alpha Strike the hell out of minions when champs aren't near.

3. You need tons of minion kills to effectively use Yi. Don't be afraid to jung early game to get some quick funds, but be careful which enemies you try to take out.

Good luck young Padawans, and have fun!