Master Yi: League of Legends’ Low-Elo Bully

Riot Games
Riot Games /

League of Legends has been around since 2009 and has seen many changes during its life span. From its earliest days, League has always had a rapidly changing environment. However, some things have stayed relatively consistent. Master Yi’s reign of terror over Low- Elo is one of these consistencies.

The distribution of players in Ranked has maintained the same for as long as I can remember (For the full chart, see here).

A monster bell curve with the largest population being in the Silver and Gold divisions. And this leads to a huddled mass of players, with vaguely similar skill levels, all looking for the reason they can’t beat out those around them.

I myself have been one of these players for years, and I’m always looking for creative ways to distinguish the things that your average League of Legends player does, versus those who are able to consistently climb into High-Diamond and above. There must be some trick to it, right?

The reality is… It’s a combination of many things— Game sense, champion knowledge, decision making, mechanical ability, etc. all take effect on your Ranked climb. This brings us to our test subject for today.

For the better part of a decade, Master Yi has served as the ultimate measuring stick of the rank he is being played in. His combination of simple mechanics, insane snowballing, and self-sustained ability to punish bad decisions has dubbed him a “Noobie stomper” for years now.

But a simple tracking of his performance metrics such as win rate and pick/ban rate throughout all Ranked divisions reveals a fascinating concept— the higher you climb, the less effective this champion is in every single region.

So is it possible to use this information to shine a light on the biggest difference between High and Low Elo? And if so, maybe we can reverse engineer a game plan to use with other champions to improve our win rates by replicating some of the more effective behaviors.

What Makes Yi So Effective in Low-Elo?

Simply put, Master Yi’s champion design gives him almost everything you would want in a Ranked climb through the lower divisions.

His entire kit is based around Alpha Strike, a point-and-click damage source that renders Yi impossible to hit, and he cannot miss. He has true damage, which makes him difficult to build against. And potentially most importantly, the reset mechanic on his R ability, Highlander, allows the player to punish the other team for stepping in the wrong direction and chopping them up.

For more details on Yi’s kit, feel free to reference our champion spotlight from a few years back here.

What makes Yi so effective against newer or less prepared League of Legends players is the fact that Yi puts pressure on the other team to react accordingly. The Yi player is always going to output his damage. He will never miss an ability, so he will always maximize his kit assuming he is right-clicking.

The pressure is on the other team to expose his weaknesses as a champion— a lack of durability with no way to deal with crowd control.

As of Patch 12.13, the current patch in League of Legends Ranked games, Master Yi is the highest win rate Jungler in every division Gold and below, with an astounding 42 and 37 percent ban rate in Iron and Bronze Divisions respectively. This further reinforces what a terror this champion is against players who struggle to account for him.

Why Does Yi Struggle In High-Elo?

The first obstacle for a Master Yi in a High-Elo Ranked game will usually take place before the game has even started. I’m talking about the draft. You see, the draft isn’t only in the game for you to flame the Mid-Laner for not giving you your preferred role, because you are auto-filled Support again.

The draft was implemented so that teams could coordinate with each other and against their opponent.

Assuming he wasn’t the final pick in the lobby, the moment Master Yi is selected in a High-Elo game, the entire mindset changes for the opposing team. They will prioritize hard CC such as stuns and suppressions, reliable disengage like Janna’s ultimate, and harder to stick to champions for carries such as Xayah.

A Master Yi can generally tell after the draft if the game will be easy or hard for himself, strictly due to the other 9 champions in that particular Ranked game.

Once the game has started, enemy Junglers will coordinate invades with his Laners to take advantage of another one of Yi’s weaknesses, his early game.

High-Elo ranked players tend to have much more confidence in their game knowledge as well as mechanical ability. With this comes a better feel for when certain champions are stronger or weaker.

Once the Master Yi snowball starts rolling, it gets harder and harder to stop. Generally, the best course of action is to delay it for as long as possible.

When the mid and late game begins, and the game-deciding team fights and skirmishes ramp up, all 5 players on the other team are aware of Yi’s presence in the game. They hold on to valuable stuns and knockbacks for his inevitable entry into the fight.

This patience and calm decision-making is very rare in the more chaotic fights of Low-Elo and makes Yi’s job of getting onto the squishy backline for any duration of time incredibly difficult.

So What Are the Takeaways of Our Comparisons?

Though not every champion is as effective with it, the general principles that make Yi so strong in Low-Elo of Ranked can be used when piloting other champions as well.

Champions with reliable damage, point-and-click abilities, resets, and strong snowball and carry potential will always be stronger in League of Legends games where everyone else is not getting the most out of their champions.

While it isn’t smart to first-time a champion in your Ranked game simply because an online guide claims they are a counter, keeping 2-3 champions in your pool of picks and choosing the one that plays best either with your team or against your opponent will naturally make your games smoother, and help your climb as well.

Always remember at the end of the day that League of Legends is a game. And the Ranked climb is meant to be fun. So if it starts to wear on you, as it has on me many times in the past, don’t be ashamed to take a break and play some normal games for a bit.

Maybe pick up a new champion in those norms…

Why not Master Yi? If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

That’s all for now, see you next time!