Master Yi Build Guide

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The ghostly Warrior - A thought-out Guide to Magic Damge (AP) Yi

written by SiameseCookie

Master Yi Build

Table of Contents

  • Change Log

    - Added comments and alternative builds in the item section.
    Addad a paragraph in the "Your role" section.

    - Ate less bacon than usual.

  • Introduction

    Hello and Welcome!

    You can call me SiameseCookie - It's my Leaguecraft account and LoL player name.
    I live in Austria (so sorry for any grammatic errors) and I am playing this game for a quite long time now and i probably lived through the same experiences you all made with League of legends (or DotA, maybe HoN etc.). I started playing the game without having any clue what "Ability Power" means. (Really.) I always bought just the recommended items. I always wanted to play ashe because I knew her from the tutorial and thought she was cool. Then I tried Soraka since I like having the ability to heal. I tried playing her offensively (still not knowing what this strange "Ability Power" was) and failed several times.
    Against easy bots.

    Then I tried playing Master Yi, mostly because he was able to heal himself. During my first game with him I got the basic principle behind this champion - The principle that the programmers intended for him, going in, activating his abilities and attacking in melee with great speed. I started to actually win some games, but there were still some situations were i had absolutely no chance. Tell me: How can you win a teamfight when you can always just attack a single target? Most champions have bouncing missiles or Area of effect (AoE) spells. What i did not recognise was that Master Yi has this too - I just bought my recommended items, Alpha Striked to the enemy and right-clicked him. I did not look for other options.

    After some time I read through the guides on this site, and most of them showed an option to play him with AP. I tried it, and it worked quite good. But i wasn't happy with this way; I did not know the small details you have to consider when playing AP Yi, so i did less damage than the "recommended" Yi most of the time. I went back to using Stark's Fervor, Youmuu's Ghostblade and Trinity Force. I tried a crit-damage Yi and failed. I tried an attack speed Yi and failed. I tried a 50% lifesteal Yi and survived anything - while losing the game.

    Through all these losses (OK, i also won around half of the games, but mostly because my Teams were awesome) I got my eyes opened for new Ways. I tried playing Master Yi again, starting with an Amplifying tome. Then I tried again with Doran's Ring. Better. I tried and tried any combination and build order that involved AP. I learned SO MUCH because I failed 99 times and stood up for a 100th. Now I'm on the successful side of this game and all the experience made me a great teammate.

    I want to share my experiences with you, distilled into this guide (cheers btw), because i think that even the most detailed Yi guide on Leaguecraft is still missing some minor points.
    This guide is NOT written for high-end players - They already know what to do, or they wouldn't be high-end players - but for beginners and intermediates who follow the highest rated guides to full detail and still lose many games because they are missing something important...

    Have fun and good luck. May the Wuju be with you.

    And as always: I appreciate any serious and respectful comments. You can help both of us by adding your thoughts in a comment - but PLEASE, use words like "I think you are missing an important point: ..." and NOT like "omg u noob lol gtfo l2p". Hate and dissing don't benefit anyone.

  • Some General Aspects of Master Yi

    Master Yi can be played as a physical Melee Carry (standard) or as an Ability Power (AP) Mage-Hybrid.

    His base Profile is already quite good: slightly above average attack damage, which is increasing well, and not-too-low base health. In addition, his attack speed increases quickly.

    His Mana, however, is somewhat low and will stay relatively low, but we can compensate that.

    His basic movement speed of 330 is the best of all champions, making him a preferred chaser - but it's a very small advantage, so take Items, Masteries and maybe some Quintessences to build this advantage up.

    Finally, his Armor and Magic Resistance are starting at average and BOTH increase with level (look through the other champions, many stay at 30 Magic Res).

    Master Yi has good stats to start with, but his Health and Mana will become real issues. In order to survive, he needs additional regeneration (Healing, Items) and a way to survive - By quickly escaping, dealing scary amounts of damage and by YOU being alert and watching the Map.

  • Masteries + Runes

    For Masteries, take a 9/0/21 build similar to that one a classic caster would use.

    My Masteries

    But wait, I want to explain some things.

    I take [mastery=Deadliness] because the alternative isn't of any use. You get one small AP point in the beginning, and 11 at level 18. This affects your whole AP by LESS than 2% throughout the game. So a 2% chance to crit feels a little better, especially since we build Master Yi into sort of a hybrid.

    [mastery=Cripple] and [mastery=Haste] are my personal preference. You can also get some AP per level or some dead time less if you want.

    [mastery=Expanded Mind] and [mastery=Awareness] are equally good in my opinion, take whatever fits your personal opinion.

    You can also take the points of Greed and/or [mastery=Utility Mastery] and spend them somewhere else. Heck, you can even take a 11/0/19 build if you want:

    Alternative Masteries

    Or spend two points in defense to increase Armor or Magic Resistance.

    I am leaving the choice to you since there are players who don't use their summoner spells too often, who never get a jungle buff etc. This doesn't mean that they're bad or noobs - they just have a different playing style where some of my masteries would be useless.

    Masteries are a very personal thing since you don't directly skill your champion, but YOURSELF. So choose your masteries for yourself - 9/0/21 is just the direction, not your way itself. The only important things are to get the max 8% CDR (2 off, 6 utility) and the 15% magic penetration. The regeneration, movement speed etc. are just bonus.

    Now on to the Runes:

    Marks - 9x Greater Mark of Insight is the way to go. This increases your damage on a percentual basis rather than raw, small numbers. Also, getting magic penetration through items will take alot of gold, so you have to get it this way. If you want to still have some focus on your physical attacks, get up to 3 Greater Mark of Desolation, but I wouldn't recommend that.

    Seals - 9x Greater Seal of Clarity will support you with the Mana you need, BUT if you use an item build that has good Mana regen (i.e. Doran's Ring, Fiendish Codex etc.), you can take something else...
    You have a big variety of choices like defense (Armor, Magic Resist, Life), Cooldowns, or Offense (AP, AP/level)... I couldn't decide if I had such a choice, so I prefer the Greater Seal of Clarity and take less Mana Regen items.

    Glyphs - 9x Greater Glyph of Focus. Why no CDR per level? Compare the runes: 0,9% at level 18 vs. 0,65% flat. Both effects are the same at level 13. Thirteen. Think about it. More than half of the game is over until your CDR per level rune pays out.

    Quintessences - Here you have some Choice. I like taking one or two Greater Quintessence of Insight and one or two Greater Quintessence of Swiftness to increase the already high movement speed even further. You can also take a Greater Quintessence of Desolation to go hybrid or Greater Quintessence of Potency to boost your early game damage.

    A small advantage of this rune build is that you can use it for pretty much every other mage champion, so you don't have to buy a completely new set of runes when you're playing someone else.

  • Summoner Spells

    I take Ghost and Exhaust.

    It's nice and simple: Ghost to chase or flee, Exhaust to chase and decrease the opponent's damage in crucial or close situations. Exhaust is also useful when your abilities are on cooldown and you still want to do something for your team. (You exhaust someone, they nuke him down)

    Good Alternatives are:

    Cleanse gets you out of many kinds of trouble. It's a good spell for escaping otherwise deadly situations.

    Flash is another escaping spell. I personally dislike it a little bit since the teleport distance is really short, but you can go through walls with it!

    Ignite is useful for extra damage and healing prevention; However, the 4 spells I listed above are more useful since it's just another damage spell and nothing with "utility".

    Heal can save your life at level 1, but it becomes more and more useless later on since you can heal yourself. Nevertheless it gives you the possibility to support your minions or allied champions, maybe even save their lives; If you are at summoner level below 10, take Heal and Ghost for safety.

    Teleport brings you back into the game quickly or helps ganking and saving towers. But I personally think that other, more directly fighting-associated spells ae of more use when playing Master Yi.

    Clarity can help you a lot, but with all that regeneration you will get from Items and Runes you may not need it.

    Clairvoyance, [spell=Fortify] and [spell=Rally] should be taken by someone else, if at all.

    Revive... Well... This spell sends a message to everyone... A message like "Hey guys, I know I am going to die, so I'll come back soon so that you can kill me again in no time..."

    Smite is a spell for Junglers. Sorry, Yi could jungle, but this is no guide for jungling.

  • Skilling Order

    It's hard to come up with a general skill order since the game can start wonderful or miserable, and you may have to change the order to avoid feeding the opposing team.

    So PLEASE read what's below the Image!

    PLEASE note: The skill points for Wuju Style and [spell_text=Meditation] are completely EXCHANGEABLE. If you're beaten down to 50 HP at level one, take Meditation at level 2! But if you're like me yesterday and get a double kill after a minute (epic...), take Wuju style.

    Simply watch your health bar. If i gets down quickly, skill Meditation on even level numbers, if not skill Wuju Style - But also put in one point for your healing anyways.

    The ideal case would be this:

    In worst case scenario, just swap all points for W and E.

    Something about the use of your skills: You should practice activating one of your abilities every 2.1 seconds. (huh?) That's right, 2.1 seconds. Doing this will proc your Sheen everytime you are using an ability and thus maximizing your damage output. So Alpha in, attack twice, Wuju Style, attack twice, Highlander, attack twice, Alpha again, attack. You will also have at least one Double Strike during this process.

    Finally, let's have a look at the stats. At level 6, you will have 30 AP (+/- 10 AP) and Alpha Strike at level 3 -> 230 Damage! Comparison: Many standard caster spells (like Veigar's Baleful Strike or Annie's Disintegrate) deal this amount of damage at level 4, and just to a single target. I say huge advantage.

    At level 9 your Alpha strike is maxed out, so your Damage can only be increased by getting more AP.
    Which leads us to the...

  • Generic Item Build

    Finally, your Items. I won't give you a detailed build order since every game is different and you once get more gold, then less, and everyone has personal preferences. But I will tell you what's important:

    - Get a Doran's Ring. Sure, it doesn't build into anything, but it gives you a little head start on health, AP and Mana regen. It doesn't matter that you can't start with any potion - you can always get Meditate and heal yourself.
    If you are laning with Soraka or someone with Clarity, or if you're feeling lucky about your Mana, you can take an Amplifying Tome.

    - On your next trip back, Get some Boots of Speed and try to build your Sheen. This will grant you nice burst damage and Mana supply. If you are having a really hard time, you can think of another Doran's Ring instead.

    - Once you have your Sheen, you need to work on some CDR: Fiendish Codex, Stinger, Kindlegem and The Brutalizer are your options, sorted from best to "not as good". Actually, the last one isn't really useful for our build.

    - If you're having a good run with several kills and no deaths, get Mejai's Soulstealer.

    - You have Sheen, the Basic Boots and some CDR. Upgrade your boots into...
    Ninja Tabi if your opponents concentrate on normal damage;
    Sorcerer's Shoes if they have additional Magic Resist;
    Mercury's Treads if they have stronger Magic and a lot of Crowd Control;
    Ionian Boots of Lucidity if none of the above (unlikely!)

    - Now be careful. Your attack damage will soon be over 100, while your AP could still be alot less. So finishing a Lich Bane at all cost would be inadequate since you would have 80 (AP) extra damage compared to around 105 (AD) extra damage from Sheen (and Wuju Style). Instead, after getting your Sheen, build enough AP to surpass your Attack Damage - a Blasting Wand, maybe a Needlessly Large Rod will help a lot. If you want, build another strong AP item from the list below.

    - Got enough AP? Good. Now buy your Lich Bane and start attempting pentakills.

    - The next Items need to focus on three things:
    1) Ability Power
    2) Cooldown Reduction
    3) Ability Power.
    Depending on how much "Action" you get (Are the enemies constantly pushing or hit-and-running?), you will either want a Nashor's Tooth or Rabadon's Deathcap, maybe [item=Morello's Evil Tome] or Archangel's Staff.

    - Most of the time you won't need any defensive items. If you get attacked surprisingly, Highlander and Ghost out of it. If they come from five different directions and keep you stunned, no item whatsoever will help you. If you're careful enough you will AVOID situations that kill you, and therefore you won't need items that help you survive long enough to reach your tower.

    My favourite build looks like this:

    With the boots upgraded following the criteria above.
    This costs around 15000 Gold... so it's nothing you build in less than half an hour, except when you are racking up a lot of kills. Anyway, most of the time the other team will surrender or have their nexus destroyed by your team before you can get the last item.

    The only REAL set items here are the Deathcap and Lich Bane. You can swap any of the other items.

    Other choices are as follows:

    Archangel's Staff gives very good magic power (this single item can get you around 140 AP)
    Deathfire Grasp is easy to build, reduces cooldowns and has a nice active ability.
    Void Staff if your opponents start building Magic Resistance above 100.

    Rod of Ages and Rylai's Crystal Scepter grant high health bonuses and nice magic benefits. Buy one of these (or both) if your enemies start to focus you. The crystal scepter is especially good since it slows all your Alpha Strike targets, so buy it if the opposing champions are good at evading and escaping.
    Zhonya's Hourglass is also useful for defence as well as high AP.

    Finally,we have three hybrid options: Hextech Gunblade, Guinsoo's Rageblade and [item=Malady].
    These 3, with Lich Bane and Nashor's Tooth or the Rabadon's Deathcap, will push our Master Yi back into his Melee-Carry-purpose a bit, while still granting him considerable amounts of AP. I personally dislike this build, it's neither this nor that, though I still take the Hextech Gunblade from time to time; It's stats are great and it has a fancy active ability, and it builds from some cheap "starting"-items. But often I think: "Why spend 3625 gold for 75 AP when I can spend 3600 gold for 140 AP + 30% extra AP?"
    This build is also more effective in Twisted Treeline (where I would recommend a lifesteal Yi otherwise.)

    To summarize my alternative builds:

    to get that extra enemy-slowing and surviving.

    (with [item_icon=Malady] as a mid-game option)

    if you want to be a nice hybrid.

  • Quick Game-Feature Summary

    Masteries: 9/0/21, take crit chance rather than AP/level


    Magic Penetration, Mana Regen/level, Cooldown Reduction, Magic Penetration, Movement Speed, Ability Power


    , ,

    Upgrade boots, then and or -> or

    , then and/or

    Finally, open the "Ability Power" category in your shop and pick the rest for yourself.

    Skilling Order:

    W and E are completely exchangeable!

  • Your Role throughout the Game

    Your main role as AP Master Yi is to deal burst damage.

    What exactly is a burst?

    You go in, use Alpha Strike, punch around a bit, you go out.

    Your purpose is NOT to initiate any fight (except one on one), your purpose is to bring them to a QUICK end. And you do this by dealing massive Alpha Strike damage to their team and falling back immediately. After some seconds, you can go in again and Alpha Strike another time. Repeat this until you have won and ALWAYS remember the pros and cons of Alpha Strike. Try to estimate which enemies are closest to you and target minions as soon as the opponent starts to fall back.

    Since your strength is based on your items you need to get as much gold as possible by last-hitting minions and maybe some jungle creep farming.
    During the first levels, your indirect Alpha Strike (targetting minions, hitting champions) will save your health and harass the opponent. If you see an enemy champion with Boots of Speed at level 1, they will almost always run back to their tower as soon as they see you coming closer. If you target them with your Alpha, you'll land right next to them, their tower, and their laning partner. "You have been slain."

    Later, around level 8 or 9, you can start making short towerdiving maneuvers if your opponent is already wounded. Do this only if you are sure to get a kill; There are many champions with defensive abilities who can surprise you. After the kill, get your Wuju buttocks out of the tower fire and meditate as soon as you've gained some distance. Again: Only do this if the kill AND your survival is guaranteed.

    If the opposing team has used all its stuns, silences and suppressing abilities in a short time, you can Alpha Strike right into them and meditate immediately thereafter. This way you will tank the entire enemy team and take very little damage (or even heal yourself). After meditating, your Alpha Strike is ready again! This tactic is highly impressive but also risky since you can't be absolutely sure if they have any abilities that can interrupt your meditation.

    Don't step into traps! If you're pushing a lane alone and someone calls SS, then YOU are going to get ganked. If half of the enemy team is not in sight and not dead either, they are coming to get YOU. Of course they might be up to something or someone else, but you should still be careful and rather move to the jungle or another lane than pushing *just a bit further* and getting torn apart.

    Make the BEST of it by expecting the WORST.

  • Psychology, the Metagame and Teamwork

    League of Legends is somewhat a social game and the teams have the possibility to surrender. So psychology and morale can become decising factors. It may be hard to keep a good mood when the kill stats are 2:15 against you. But it's even worse when there is this strange Master Yi player who gets double and triple kills and then even makes fun of you!

    I think that winning not only by playing well, but also through demoralization fits quite good to the way of Wuju. Most of the games I win are because the opposing team surrenders. The downside is that I never get to my full item build...

    What I want to say is just this: Be a little cocky and just a little bit too confident. (Remember: Always expect the worst though and play careful.) If you score a double kill in your lane, an innocent "/all where have all the champions gone?" or something like that will make them upset, maybe even angry. The pure thought that they are getting ripped to pieces by someone who ALSO has the time to write wise cracks can give them feelings I don't want to describe. Once they are angry, they start making mistakes, which leads to more kills for your team. gg, you have won.

    But don't be rude. Don't swear. Just make a LITTLE fun of them.

    One more thing on your own mind: As Master Yi, you WILL start doing risky things. You want that kill. You WANT it. Even if you have to towerdive with 200 health. Don't be so stupid. Getting your opponent to teleport back into his base already means a huge advantage for you team. You don't always have to get the kill. You'll be p*ssed off when you die and the enemy doesn't. And once you're angry, you'll start making mistakes... psychology.

    Another thing that can make you a better summoner is to watch what's happening on your screen with full attention (yeah, no sh*t) - From the loading screen on. Look at the enemy champions and their summoner spells. If one of them has smite, it's going to be a jungler of course. If two have smite, they both WANT to jungle, but only one WILL jungle since there probably isn't enough for everyone. This tells you that they'll easily start to dislike each other throughout the game - at some point they will see each other as rivals and not teammates. That means worse teamwork means better odds for you means better chances of them surrendering.

    Also, look at the other summoner spells. Watch for Ignite, Exhaust etc. and try to estimate their potential danger to you. Expect someone with teleport to come back quickly (duh!). Just THINK about their spells and deduct some measures you're going to set to avoid the dangers.

    The last and pobably most important point is TEAMWORK. Work in the team. Work as a team. Do some teamwork. Work it, team.
    When I hear people on TV talking about teamwork (soccer etc.) it often seems like they have no clue what it means... teamwork is a nebulous word to me... But here's my take on it:

    -Be friendly: Say "hi" as soon as you're in champion selection. If someone is unsure which hero to take, ask them to take someone wich good CC (since you have none). Make clear who is going to which lane. Don't argue. Be nice and share. Don't leave any room for your opponents to make you guys angry. If someone steals a kill, it's OK. Maybe they don't get enough gold because the got harassed all the time. You are a TEAM. Their kill is your kill. Work as a unit.

    -Help and support others: Alpha Strike the enemy as soon as they're chasing your teammate. If Caitlyn is channeling her Ace in the Hole at your mate, step into the line of fire and meditate. Do heroic things, but of course don't do suicidal and stupid things.
    Also, try to arrive at teamfights as soon as you can. Sure, Master Yi is best at chasing down wounded champions who are falling back, but your Alpha Strike damage is also very useful during the fight - You just have to be sure to get out of the brawl again. Be there for your team.

    -Use your summoner spells to save them (heal them, exhaust enemy chasers...)

  • Have it YOUR Way

    So, I hope you read all of the guide and not just the masteries/runes/items part. After all, there is a lot of useful information amongst all this gibberish. Take what you need, but give everything at least a try. If you're somewhat like me when I started, this guide will get you more kills, mor victories, more fun.

    If you want to tell me something, just leave a comment. I'm always open to learning something new, and maybe I forgot something that you want to mention. Just be polite and use existing english (or german) words.

    May your way of Wuju be as bright as the golden sun above Ionia.

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