Master Yi Build Guide

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Master Yi - Jungle like a pro

written by bigozzie234

Master Yi Build

Table of Contents

  • Changelog

    - Typed up my masteries for those who were having trouble viewing them.
    - Cleaned up the "Items" section to be more legible and added a link to the final build.
    - Added more of my thoughts on various topics, such as alternate rune choices and early summoner levels.

    - Added the math for level 3 ganks to the crit vs. armor pen section, and added a bit to my introduction.

    - Fixed my math in the last section to account for Pietemans correction. This reduced the DPS for this build by about 100 across the board, unfortunately. After some number crunching, however, I still have yet to find a build that does more damage without sacrificing either survivability or early game ganking power, so I still stand behind this build 100%.

    - Fixed a typo in the "Items" section : Executioner's costs 1350, not 1600 like it says on Leaguecraft, so it's only a 400 gold loss to resell one.
    - Added another math section at the end for why we bring Armor Pen runes instead of Crit Chance.

  • Introduction

    I don't believe in long introductions, so let's get to the point. The basic idea behind this guide is efficiency. Using precise mathematics (detailed at the end of this guide), I have created the most gold-efficient method to increase Yi's DPS without sacrificing survivability. If you're not in to math, don't worry; this guide is written in a straightforward format, presenting what I believe to be the most effective method to dominating with Jungle Yi.

    You're welcome.

    P.S. : Since putting this guide up, I've noticed that the comments are very positive, but the voting is not. If you take the time to downvote my guide, please leave a comment explaining why so I can improve my build. Likewise, if you like the guide and find this build works for you, please take a second to vote it up.

    Most importantly, I really enjoy receiving feedback and criticisms, so even if you don't vote, at least leave a few words with your thoughts. Thanks!

  • Abilities

    Double Strike
    This is free extra DPS. Every eighth hit becomes two hits, increasing DPS by roughly 12.5% on average. Take note that the second hit cannot crit and DOES NOT PROC LIFESTEAL.

    Alpha Strike
    This skill makes jungling a breeze and helps close the distance to fleeing targets with ease. At higher levels, it can even be used to finish off a low-health champion.

    It's important to understand the mechanics behind Alpha Strike to be a pro at Yi.

    - When Alpha Strike is used, a second target is chosen near the first, but the third target will be chosen based on its proximity to the SECOND target, not the first (and the fourth target is based on the third). This means that you can strike someone from a great distance if there is a line of other targets between you and them!

    - You will come out of Alpha Strike adjacent to the target you chose when you used it, no matter how far they've ran from you. You CAN use this to follow enemies through flash effects and even teleports! Be careful, though, as smart enemies will use this to their advantage by running into tower range while you're flying through the air.

    - If your first target dies after you cast Alpha Strike but before the animation ends, you will reappear where you were when you used the skill. This means that you can Alpha Strike a minion, then Smite it while flying towards it to maintain your position, preventing you from ending up closer to your enemies than you would otherwise like.

    - Targeted effects will follow you through Alpha Strike, but you are totally immune to AoEs and skillshots while Alpha Striking. For example, you can dodge Anivia's flash frost, but not Sion's cryptic gaze.

    - 9 times out of 10 you will be able to attack your target as soon as you come out of Alpha Strike if you right click frantically. If your next hit is going to be a double strike, this combo can land some SERIOUS damage, especially early game.

    - Don't forget that Alpha Strike refreshes if you kill someone with Highlander active!

    I honestly don't take this skill until level 13 for two reasons:

    1) I build a lot of lifesteal. It's faster to heal by hitting something than it is to meditate. Seriously.

    2) You're completely immobile. Part of what makes this build powerful is your blinding speed, so this is the exact opposite of what we want.

    The only time I take a point in this any earlier is if the other team has a Karthus or Caitlyn. They'll typically try to ult me as I run away, and Meditating when you see it coming is an excellent counter thanks to the Armor and MR boost.

    Wuju Style
    Max this first. Each level is like having another longsword. At level 9, this skill basically gives you 2905 gold in attack damage. Holy crap.

    Make sure each time you kill someone with Highlander you pop this again to go after your next target. Those damage boosts from the active add up quick.

    Using this well is the key to a strong Yi. Here are some simple DOs and DON'Ts :

    DO ...

    ... use this when ganking, every time. If this isn't up, you can't gank, period.

    ... use this to get away from ganks. It prevents you from being slowed, so it's VERY hard for people to gank you with this on.

    ... use this to push down towers. You can drop towers inside your ult at level 11 if you're uninterrupted.

    DON'T ...

    ... use this again as soon as you get a kill. It doesn't stack with itself, so you only want to reactivate it when the first duration expires. Plus it costs a lot of your mana, so think conservatively.

    ... try anything fancy without Highlander up. You WILL die and look like a noob. You're not a noob, are you? Didn't think so.

  • Masteries + Runes

    My Masteries and Runes are fairly straightforward, but I'll go over them anyway.


    Deadliness [3/3] Plentiful Bounty [1/1]
    Sorcery [1/4] Alacrity [4/4]
    Sunder [3/3] Offensive Mastery [2/2]
    Brute Force [3/3]
    Lethality [3/3]
    Havoc [1/1]

    Perserverance [3/3] Haste [1/1]
    Awareness [4/4]
    Meditation [1/3]

    This is a standard 21/0/9 build for junglers. I take meditation over utility mastery because I don't have any mana regen in runes or items. Besides, buffs are overrated on Yi, honestly; other champions can make much better use of both lizard and golem. ANYONE ELSE ON YOUR TEAM should have golem besides you.

    As for runes, I can't imagine not using the following :

    3 x Greater Quintessence of Desolation
    9 x Greater Mark of Desolation
    9 x Greater Seal of Shielding
    9 x Greater Glyph of Shielding

    Why so much magic resist? Because we out-DPS almost any other physical carry, so we don't need armor or dodge. Plus, those runes give us +40 MR at level 18, giving us over 100 MR total with our .

    If you really feel like your early jungling could use a boost, or you're having trouble vs. enemy DPS, Greater Seal of Resilience make a decent substitute, but I honestly feel like the armor drops off in usefulness at later levels.

    Also, using crit chance in your marks and quints is viable, but will weaken your early game damage and force you to rely on luck a little too much.

  • Summoner Abilities

    Smite and Ghost

    I've played with Exhaust and Cleanse in place of Ghost, and while both are good, Ghost has such good synergy with Highlander and Youmuu that it's hard not to run with it.

  • Items

    Alright, this is where things get a little unorthodox.

    Start your jungling with Brawler's Gloves and two Health Potions. Then follow the following build order.

    Turn your into an , then get .

    Upgrade your into as soon as possible, picking up ASAP, obviously.

    Next, get a and turn it into .

    Now that you have decent damage output, upgrade your into . If the enemy team has literally no CC, go for or instead. 99% of the time you're going to get Merc Treads, though.

    Now get another to help out your lifesteal in teamfights.

    If you've decided to use crit chance runes, upgrade that into a second to make your damage more consistent.

    If you're like me and prefer armor pen, buy a and turn it into . This will give your damage a huge boost.

    If you didn't already, upgrade your to .

    Now buy another .

    If you feel like a decisive teamfight is coming up, buy and [item_icon=Elixir of Agility] to strengthen your damage output.

    Yes, that means you'll have three Executioner's Callings. Yes, you'll get made fun of. Yes, this build will rock your enemies so hard they'll call OP. Trust me (or don't and read the math at the bottom).

    The final build will look like this :

    [builder=Master Yi/9b1fa5ec6cb092d9815e5d41a37186bc]

    If the game runs long, sell one for .

    Why not just build the IE instead of the third Executioner's? Because building and then selling an Executioner's is only a 400 gold loss (not much at the end of the game), and it gives us huge boosts in the two stats we want while we wait for our IE gold.

  • Skilling Order

    ... or if the enemy team has an annoying Karthus or Caitlyn ...

    The two levels in Alpha Strike early on help our jungling a lot and also give a little extra oomph when we close the distance in ganks.

  • Jungling (Early Game)

    Okay, so you know how to skill up. You know the unstoppable build order. You're ready to destroy people, right? Hell yeah you are! So buckle up, because here's exactly how to dominate.

    Start on the two minigolems. Alpha Strike, then Smite whichever one has more health left (if they're tied, pick one). Attack that one, using one of your pots to keep your health up. You'll level off of them and get Wuju Style. Sweet.

    Move across middle lane and take out the wolves next. Alpha Strike, then focus down the wolves with the least health first. Use your second health pot if you're at half health or less and your first one has stopped. If you are VERY unlucky, it is technically possible to lose this fight. I've only had it happen once in over two hundred games. Just hope they don't crit a lot. Seriously, they can be little bitches.

    Head back across to your wraiths. By now, Smite is either up or very close to up. If it isn't, wait until it shows 9 seconds on the cooldown and then Alpha Strike a little wraith. Kill the small ones first, using smite on the big one. Sometimes you'll get lucky and kill the big one with Alpha Strike. In that case, just smite a little one. You'll level up from this fight, so get your second level of Alpha Strike now.

    Now comes the fun part : look at all three lanes. If the enemy team is overextended at top or bottom, OR if middle is at less than half health and not pushed back, this is your ganking target. Go there and let your allies know to commit heavily. You're relying on your teammates for CC and not to give away the fact that you're ganking, so make sure they initiate, not you! Also, watch out for enemies with Flash and/or Ghost when you gank: those two spells will ruin even the most carefully planned ganks.

    When ganking, pop Ghost before you run in. Save your Alpha Strike for when the enemy runs away and gets out of your reach, and if you can afford it, try to AS when your next attack will double strike. If you failed your gank, don't worry. You more than likely forced the enemy to back, helping out that lane immensely.

    IF THERE IS NO OBVIOUS OPENING TO GANK AT LEVEL 3, DO NOT ATTEMPT ONE ANYWAY!! You will waste your Ghost and maybe even get yourself or your teammates killed. Go back, get your Avarice Blade and a health pot, and start your next jungle run.

    From now until 15-20 minutes, lather, rinse, repeat. You can run the jungle in the same order each time you go back to it, but make sure to look for ganking opportunities constantly. Use health potions to keep your HP high as your jungle so that you can gank without fear. Once you have your first Vampiric Scepter, you shouldn't need health pots any more.

    A quick note : when ganking with Youmuu's before level 11, DO NOT use Highlander or Youmuu's until you are nearly on top of your enemy. The durations will expire long before your target dies otherwise.

    As the laning phase comes to an end, you should have , , and possibly your . Ganking with Highlander and Youmuu's is ridiculous, and if you can Ghost on top of it, the enemy will have no chance to escape. Get Lizard if the opportunity presents itself, and then proceed as described below.

  • Mid and Late Game

    I'll just give some brief guidelines here, because a lot of playing Yi beyond jungling is just "feeling" the situation, and that's something that comes from playing LoL a lot.

    - You are the last person in any teamfight, period. Know what stuns and snares the enemy team has and wait until you see 90% of them used. If that means watching your team get wailed on for 5-10 seconds, oh well. Here's the logic : if the enemy team is saving stuns for you, then they're NOT using them on your teammates, allowing the other four members of your group to take control of the fight.

    - Go for the weakest support champion first. If there isn't one, go for the squishiest damage dealer. If they run away from the fight, pursue them for LONGER than you feel comfortable. Remember, killing a target refreshes your cooldowns, allowing you to chain together kills easily IF AND ONLY IF you land that first kill!

    - Dive under towers! You out-lifesteal so much damage it isn't even funny. For them, I mean. For us it's hilarious.

    - Never travel alone. You can take many champions in a 1-on-1, but it's very rare you'll catch someone alone, and even rarer that they'll STAY alone to fight you.

    - Push towers if there's nothing interesting happening. Depending on the enemy team, you can push faster than all of them together. If your team is defending a weak push, pick another lane and show them how it's done. Highlander + Youmuu + Wuju = dead tower.

    - Don't defend lanes alone! You are one of the worst defenders and will get tower dived if you have no support. Use the enemy push as an opportunity for your team to initiate a fight or as your cue to push.

    - End the game by the 40 minute mark!! Yi is the hardest hitting champion up until this point, but there are many other champions that carry harder in the long run, and unless you have great teammates, you'll rapidly become useless.

  • Early Summoner Levels

    I hate to have to say this, but if you're considering jungling Yi with this build before summoner level 25, DON'T. This build is tricky to run even with the full runepage and masteries; lower level summoners just don't have the stats to back up the item build.

    That's not to say this isn't a viable build at early levels; you just can't jungle with it. There are some amazing guides that will teach you to dominate in the lane with Yi, and this is not one of them.

    I can't stress this enough.


  • Closing Remarks

    I really hope you found this guide useful. If you have any constructive comments or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment. I'm always looking to improve my game.

  • OH GOD MATH (or "Why that thing I said?")

    ... Oh, you're still here? You really want to see the math? Alright, but I warn you, here there be statistics ...

    So here's the basic equation for DPS :

    DPS = damage * [ (1 - critChance) + (critChance * critDamage) ] * [ 1 / (1 + targetArmor) ] * min [2.5, baseAttackRate * (1 + attackSpeedIncrease) ]

    ... where critChance, critDamage, targetArmor, and attackSpeedIncrease are all divided by 100 to get a decimal (i.e. 20% chance to crit --> critChance = 0.20). Keep in mind that targetArmor is reduced by our armor pen to a minimum of 0.

    There are many more things we could take into account, such as effects that proc on hit (like Madred's Bloodrazor) or our non-critting double strike, but we're going to look at raw damage because we don't build those items.

    If we take a look at our final build here, we can get our numbers to plug into the equation.

    damage = 260 (including the extra 70 from Wuju Style)
    critChance = 0.62
    critDamage = 2.10
    targetArmor = ~0.60 (Here we assume an average armor of 150, subtracting 51 flat pen and then multiplying by 60% for last whisper)
    baseAttackRate = 0.71
    attackSpeedIncrease = 2.08 (from masteries, Youmuu's, Highlander, and level 18)

    0.71 * 3.08 = ~2.19, so we'll be using this as our attacks per second.

    Therefore, our DPS = ...

    260 * (0.38 + 0.62 * 2.1) * 1 / (1.6) * 2.19

    = 260 * 1.682 * 2.19 / 1.6

    = ~598.58 damage per second

    Now we see that we have 54% lifesteal, so we multiply that by our DPS to get ~323.23 lifesteal per second.

    ... 323 lifesteal per second. That means that whatever damage comes at us, we essentially reduce it by 323 per second.

    Holy shit. Math.

    For the record, this gets more ridiculous when we sub in the IE in the late game.

    damage = 335
    critChance = 0.67
    critDamage = 2.60
    targetArmor = ~0.60
    baseAttackRate = 0.71
    attackSpeedIncrease = 2.08

    335 * (0.33 + 0.67 * 2.6) * 2.19 / 1.6

    = ~950.08 damage per second (!!!)

    Even with our lifesteal of only 36% from two executioner's, we still lifesteal ~342 per second, so there's even a small gain there.

    Again, the only reason we don't build the IE first is that it costs 2500 more gold, and the items that build into it are less effective than simply buying an EC and waiting. Want proof? Sure, why not. Let's get the BF Sword first.

    damage = 310
    critChance = 0.47
    critDamage = 2.10
    targetArmor = ~0.60
    baseAttackRate = 0.71
    attackSpeedIncrease = 2.08

    310 * (0.53 + 0.47 * 2.1) * 2.19 / 1.6

    = ~643.68

    We gained about 50 dps. But what about our lifesteal? At only 36%, our LSpS plummets to ~232. That's 90 less life healed each second for 50 more damage per second? Possibly viable, but risky, so no thanks.

    And if we built the Cloak of Agility?

    damage = 260
    critChance = 0.65
    critDamage = 2.10
    targetArmor = ~0.60
    baseAttackRate = 0.71
    attackSpeedIncrease = 2.08

    260 * (0.35 + 0.65 * 2.1) * 2.19 / 1.6

    = ~610.33 damage per second. Wow, that went up ~12 points.

    Lifesteal per second with this? ~220. That's a loss of 100. No. Just no. Unacceptable.

  • More math? Seriously? (Armor Pen vs Crit Chance)

    This section details the math behind taking Armor Pen runes on a crit build.

    Going back to our math above, we see that with APen quints and marks, we have 598.58 damage per second at level 18. Let's see what happens with crit chance runes.

    damage = 260
    critChance = 0.76
    critDamage = 2.10
    targetArmor = ~0.75 (Here we assume an average armor of 150, subtracting 26 flat pen and then multiplying by 60% for last whisper)
    baseAttackRate = 0.71
    attackSpeedIncrease = 2.08

    DPS = 260 * (0.24 + 0.76 * 2.1) * 2.19 / 1.75

    = ~597.382, a loss of only 1 damage per second (and even less of a lifesteal loss). Now if we sub in the IE late game ...

    damage = 335
    critChance = 0.81
    critDamage = 2.60
    targetArmor = ~0.75
    baseAttackRate = 0.71
    attackSpeedIncrease = 2.08

    DPS = 335 * (0.19 + 0.81 * 2.6) * 2.19 / 1.75

    = ~962.55, which is only 12 more dps than what we had with IE and APen runes.

    We see from this that our late game damage isn't affected heavily either way, so let's look at the early game damage. Specifically, how does this affect our level 3 gank attempts?

    With armor pen runes at level 3, we have the following :

    damage = 98 (with level 1 Wuju active)
    critChance = 0.10
    critDamage = 2.10
    targetArmor = 0 (31 armor pen reduces almost anyone's armor to 0 unless they're a tank)
    baseAttackRate = 0.71
    attackSpeedIncrease = ~0.0555

    DPS = 98 * (0.90 + 0.10 * 2.1) * 0.75 / 1

    = ~81.59, which isn't too much, but it is very early in the game. Now with crit chance.

    damage = 98
    critChance = 0.24
    critDamage = 2.10
    targetArmor = ~19 (assuming an average armor of ~25 at level 3)
    baseAttackRate = 0.71
    attackSpeedIncrease = ~0.0555

    DPS = 98 * (0.76 + 0.24 * 2.1) * 0.75 / 1.19

    = ~78.071, slightly lower than above, but not by much. Still, notice that with armor pen each non-crit hits for 98, while with crit chance runes each one hits for ~82. That's 16 damage lost each time we don't crit, or 32 lost if our double strike doesn't. Anything less than 60-70% crit is fairly unreliable by definition, so in the early game, armor pen is clearly superior.

    All in all, both runes offer roughly the same late game damage, so the reason we slot APen is for the massive early game boost when we have less crit from items to back our damage up.

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