How to play Tahm Kench in the mid lane like Golden Guardians’ Ablazeolive

The recently reworked champion is slowly finding himself in the top and mid lane.

Image via Riot Games

During this weekend’s LCS match between Dignitas and Golden Guardians, a surprise Tahm Kench pick found its way into the draft.

While most League of Legends fans expected the champion to go into the top lane, Ablazeolive took him in the mid lane against Yusui’s Akali. Golden Guardians won the game and Ablazeolive produced a 6/1/7 scoreline with his mid Kench. This was the first mid-lane Tahm Kench pick after his recent rework where Riot put his most impactful ability, Devour, as his ultimate and gave him a new basic ability that resembles his old ult.

The champion has a 52.51 percent win rate in the top lane with a 4.3 percent pick rate, while his win rate is even higher in the mid lane at 54.47 percent, according to data from u.gg. But his win rate in the mid lane might be inflated due to a lower pick rate at 0.1 percent due to most likely only Tahm Kench mains using the champion in this role.

Here’s our guide on how to play the recently reworked Tahm Kench in the mid lane.

Runes

Screengrab via Riot Games

Resolve

Grasp of the Undying: Out of the three available choices in the Resolve tree, Grasp of the Undying works best for a mid-lane Tahm Kench since you don’t have a reliable way to activate Aftershock and can’t activate Guardian without an ally. Over time, this rune gives you a lot of health if you manage to stack it up during the laning phase. It’ll also provide a decent damage boost on a low cooldown.

Demolish: This rune will help you take down towers since your kit doesn’t have an impactful ability to boost your tower damage. As a result, you’ll be relying on Demolish early to pick up some tower plates if the enemy mid laner backs or looks for a roam.

Second Wind: With high HP and no way of getting burst down by opponents due to your powerful gray health, picking up this rune is better compared to the traditional Bone Plating, especially if you’re looking to go for trades often during the laning phase.

Revitalize: Revitalize is a powerful rune to increase your shield power by five percent at all times. And if you drop below 40 percent health, you get an additional 10 percent increase, making your health bar deceptive.

Inspiration

Minion Dematerializer: As a melee champion, you’re going to run into issues when looking to last hit a cannon for a lot of gold and experience. The opposing mid laner can look to zone you out, so you need to be careful to not lose this crucial experience and gold. As a result, picking up Minion Dematerializer is one of the best things you can do to ensure that you can easily take down a cannon whenever you want.

Approach Velocity: Since you’ll be slowing targets down with your Q, picking up Approach Velocity is a great idea to get increased movement speed against slowed targets.

Bonuses: +9 adaptive force, +9 adaptive force, +6 armor

Item build

Screengrab via Riot Games

Tahm Kench in the mid lane works best when you build him tanky to give your squad as much time as they need to kill the opposing team. You want to go for a Mythic item with the Immolate passive to have a bit of damage or you’ll be ignored by the opposing team as they move through you to kill your teammates. Afterward, you want to go for a Bramble Vest that can be built into a Thornmail since most champions nowadays have a lot of healing via runes, items, or their kit. For boots, you want to go for either Mercury’s Treads or Plated Steelcaps, depending on how much auto-attack damage your opponent has. If they have a couple of AD carries in various roles, then the armor boots will prove to be much more useful. Otherwise, go for Mercury’s Treads.

With these core items completed, you should adjust your next items in each game. But some good choices that you might want to get are Spirit Visage, Randuin’s Omen, and Gargoyle Stoneplate. Spirit Visage is a great option if you need some magic resist against compositions that rely on their AP carries. Randuin’s and Gargoyle are strong items if you’re in the middle of the action and want to give yourself a huge shield to survive the damage from your opponents or if you want to reduce their movement speed, attack damage, and critical strike damage for brief periods of time.

When to pick it and how to play

Tahm Kench works a great frontline champion, especially if you have a composition with bruiser or glass cannon champions in other roles and need someone to soak up all the poke and damage from your opponents. Golden Guardians picked Tahm to round out their composition of Camille, Diana, Sivir, and Yuumi. Without a frontline, that composition would’ve gotten ran down quite easily. But with the Kench in the mid lane, they had the perfect frontline to protect them.

This pick works out similarly to a Sett in the mid lane when you need some CC and someone to soak up the damage since the top and jungle roles usually go for aggressive champions that are squishy. While the style of gameplay on a mid Tahm Kench is a bit different from Sett, there are some similarities, such as the deceptive health pool on both champions who are able to escape easily with her shields.

During the laning phase, your goal is to farm up for your core items while also poking down the opposing champion with your Q. It does a lot of damage and allows you to stun the target if you hit it a couple of times, giving you free rein over your opponent while they deal with the annoying CC.

When you get to teamfights, you want to disrupt your opponent’s plan. If they have a squishy backline that’s carrying teamfights, you can look to dive them with your small blink to ensure that your team doesn’t get focused down and the opposing carry wastes their time trying to kill you. With the proper tank items, it’s going to be hard to bring you down unless the entire team focuses you, so you’ll be buying a lot of time for your team. At all times, you want to stay in front of your team and create space. Don’t go into the backline since your teammates will be left helpless and vulnerable, which could cost you a fight or even the game.


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