From Mister Yi to Master Yi – A Look at the Wuju Stylist in Competitive Play
IT’S TIME TO YI.
Master Yi recently saw some competitive play at MLG Anaheim, played by Dignitas. AP Yi has shown himself in the past, but a nerf to Meditate’s AP ratio greatly reduced his exposure in the scene. He’s a very unique character though, given how oddly he deals damage (one skill being spammed), and – unlike other reset champions – with no other source of damage besides auto-attacks. Yi’s Q, Alpha Strike, is a 1:1 AP ratio nuke where an untargettable Yi bounces from target to target, then lands next to them – this is leveled first. Yi’s W, Meditate, provides a hefty healing, armor, and magic resistance buff that can fully heal him by the end of the game, but has a rather large cooldown at 35 seconds base – this is leveled second. Yi’s E, Wuju Style, provides bonus AD, and is mostly used to trigger Lich Bane later on; some players will take a point in it to help last hit – this is leveled last. Yi’s ultimate, Highlander, removes all slows, providing him with a 40% move speed bonus, a scaling attack speed bonus, and most importantly- if he gets a kill while the buff is active, all of his cooldowns reset (half for assists).
The example game for this article is going to be Dignitas versus TSM at MLG Anaheim 2013. Master Yi is generally based more around his enemies team compositions rather than his own. There are lots of specific characters that can ruin his day like Soraka, Maokai and goofier all-in mids like Darius etc. However Master Yi can trounce other characters that don’t have hard CC, due to Highlander removing slows. Of TSM’s Comp: Lulu loses all of her slows, Rumble cannot CC Master Yi, TF doesn’t have an instant reliable stun, Stand Aside has a long CD and doesn’t slow, and Elise has to land a very dodgable skillshot if Master Yi has his ultimate up. Team SoloMid’s composition doesn’t have many ways to contain the Yi-dom, and that is what let this pick shine.
Early game: Survive and Farm.
How does Scarra’s Yi survive in lane against Reginald’s TF? Theoretically TF should be able to spam Gold Card and Wild Card combos on Yi all day long, while not running out of mana with his Blue Card. Yi has a strength very few characters do as early as level one though: he can push like crazy. Alpha Strike can also work as a harassment tool, but it can be difficult to reliably land on larger creepwaves, so Scarra set up a nifty two-pronged attack. First use an Alpha Strike to push the wave and kill melee creeps, and then hold an Alpha Strike for the ranged minions, looking for Regi to get in range for harass. That’s how Scarra survived laning, instead of focusing on the Alpha Strike harass which doesn’t utilize Yi’s pushing reliably. He set a trap for Regi wherein Regi had the option of harassing/farming at the cost of taking Alpha Strike damage and possible minion aggro.
So Yi survived TF, but the midlane is rarely a 1v1. How do the junglers factor in? Yi doesn’t work with his own jungler as well as others when it comes to ganking a full HP enemy. Alpha Strike has a long cooldown at the early levels so he can only get off one in a fight, and while Yi does have decent autoattack damage, he has no crowd control to initiate the gank. When it comes to getting ganked himself Yi is very susceptible to specific gankers. Pre-6 he’s weak to all slows, but any jungler whose CC can be flashed shouldn’t be able to kill Master Yi. It’s all in the movespeed, Yi has a whopping 355 Base MS, making him tied for fastest character in the game, without factoring in passives and skills. If Yi is able to flash away from a gank, he doesn’t go down. It’s important to note that if Yi is pushing the wave like Scarra was, then the gank can’t be immediately redone since the wave is at the enemy’s turret and there’s no reason for Yi to go forward in the lane. Now some junglers do wreck Yi, like a Maokai early on (and even later on). However someone like Elise can’t lock him down for long enough on her own.
Mid Game: Roam or Farm.
Mid-game Yi is one of the most underrated aspects of the character. Going to reset city is his big appeal, but there are so many ways to get there as well as more passive options such as farming.
Roaming: Yi can roam like crazy, especially towards the Support ADC lane. Due to the level differences between the two lanes, it just takes one or two plinks of harass to let an Alpha Strike/Ignite/Double Strike combo finish someone off and get a reset on a lower HP target like Sona. If the lanemate is hit by the initial alpha strike, the reset generally leads to a double kill.
Counter-Roaming: This is what Scarra did to Reginald in Dignitas versus TSM. Every time Regi ulted as Twisted Fate to gank another lane, Scarra would chase him on foot. The reason this works so well is due to Yi Mechanics: Master Yi is better at coming into a fight late. He needs the reset, but Yi isn’t like Katarina who can 100% champions on her own. With only one real source of damage, until he picks up a Lich Bane, he’s not too useful starting off the fight. This is why a Yi that comes in late can shred the hopefully low enemies. This does rely on having a team competent enough to deal damage in a 2v3 while preferably not dying, which luckily Dignitas has. Check this link for footage of the a counter-roam.
Farming: With Alpha Strike he can clear mid then easily clear wolves and wraiths. With his Highlander and Meditation he’s a pretty impossible gank. There’s not much to this, but it is effective.
Late Game: Reset City
Late game Yi is different than most mid-laners. Many mids like Orianna, or Karthus can start fights effectively and with high burst, while others like Ryze or Kha’zix may not be able to dive in right away – but very quickly output huge damage in a fight. Yi needs someone to die, preferably as his Alpha Strike finishes. He’s got a major advantage over other mids though. Everytime Yi gets a kill, that’s another second or so where he can’t be targeted in Alpha Strike. While there are other reset characters like Katarina or Kha’Zix that can output more DPS, Yi outputs invincibility. It’s not hard to kill an AP Yi in a single stun due to his low hp, but the way Yi plays out should make that single stun hard to land. Reset Footage.
How did Dignitas Utilize “The Yi?”
Dignitas used Yi as an Anti-Twisted Fate character, effectively showing up late to every fight but in a good way. When Twisted Fate ulted across the map, the Dignitas members being ganked knew to kite away and deal damage. This meant when Yi finally came to the fight, he’d be able to easily clean up any enemies using his reset. Dignitas avoided standard 5v5 confrontations for the most part to reliably setup Yi reset fights. There wasn’t much of a reason for them to force the issue when TSM was trying to play a mobility-and-gank based game. Instead of falling into a team fight trap where Yi’s involvement is much riskier, most engagements started with a catch or an already poked down enemy champion.
What does kill Yi? Any sort of laner that can apply very heavy pressure in lane, and preferably has an interrupt for Meditate. Darius is the easiest example of this. If Yi ever uses Alpha Strike, Darius gets to beat his chest and auto attack him down, and possibly kill Yi if he was low enough. Junglers like Maokai, Nocturne, or anyone with a somewhat reliable hard CC can destroy him in laning. Team fights are all about knowing where the Yi is. If you can win a sweet 2v2 but finish the fight at half HP in the AD Support lane, that’s setting up a sweet Yi double kill if he was in the area. 5v5 players have to dedicate hard CC to keep Yi from chaining together Alpha Strikes and getting a successful meditate off. The reason Maokai works well against Yi is his ultimate greatly reduces the damage output, and his CC will reliably land on Yi in every fight.
That’s all for now! Hopefully LCS keeps tossing new champions into the mix, but if you enjoyed this article, feel free to leave a comment or follow me on Twitter @LeagueOfStudio
-Christopher “Studio” Grant