Shepherd Rises: Yorick Rework
The old gravedigger of league past has finally gotten some much needed attention. Being one of the only champions left from the early years of LoL to not be touched up yet, Yorick was due for a complete makeover.
Not only was Yorick bad and outclassed in almost every scenario, he just looked plain ugly. Riot listened to the cries of the community and gave him a complete rework, both design and ability-wise.
First we are going to cover the changes to his abilities, then we are going to look at practical implications for Yorick in competitive LoL.
To see a quick video preview, click here to see Riot’s champion spotlight for Yorick.
Passive - Shepherd of Souls: When minions die near Yorick, they have a chance of leaving Graves. Enemy champions are guaranteed to drop a Grave on death. Graves allow Yorick to raise ghouls that act similar to regular minions. They will push a lane for as long as they’re alive or until they move too far from Yorick.
Q - Last Rites/Awakening: This will be Yorick’s main ability. Last Rites buffs Yorick’s next basic attack, healing him for a base amount. When Yorick is below half health, the Q healing is doubled. If he last hits a minion with Last Rites, that minion will summon a Grave. If three or more Graves are active near Yorick at once and Last Rites is on cooldown, Yorick gains access to Awakening. Awakening allows Yorick to raise up to four ghouls from Graves nearby.
W - Dark Procession: Dark Procession basically works sort of like if Jarvan IV’s R and Veigar’s E had a baby. Basically, Yorick creates a small “arena” on a target location that can trap enemies inside. Allies can walk freely through the structure while enemy champions cannot. The gimmick is, enemy champions can attack and destroy the wall to bring it down prematurely. I can see this ability being a huge outplay mechanic that will separate the good Yoricks from the great Yoricks. Placing this ability to trap two or more enemies and comboing it with big AoE ults can spell doom for the enemy if they can’t break out of it in time.
E - Mourning Mist: Yorick’s E is his second ability that plays off his ghoul passive. Mourning Mist is a skillshot/cone that marks and slows enemies on hit. Enemies that are marked are immediately targeted by all nearby ghouls, allowing the ghouls to leap to them from long distances. This tool can be very effective at poking melee champs from range, preventing CS, or even just slowing your opponent enough for your jungler to get a gank off. You can even use this tool in teamfights to make your ghouls target and zone out carries.
R - Eulogy of the Isles: Yorick immediately summons the Maiden of the Mist. Maidens of the Mist work similar to ghouls in that they will push a wave, except they don’t die when Yorick goes out of range. At higher levels, his ult will also summon ghouls with the Maiden. Maidens also summon a ghoul every time a nearby enemy minion dies, up to four at a time. On top of that, when Yorick attacks a champion who is being attacked by a Maiden, he will do bonus magic damage every auto attack. The Maiden is killable, and can be easily dealt with by smiting it or kiting it around.
Yorick’s basic combo starts with waiting until you have enough Graves nearby to summon ghouls, then engaging on your opponent with your E and Q. Once the ghouls are summoned, they will hack away at the enemy champion until they kill them or the E mark runs out. You will constantly want to Q minions and champions to make sure your health pool is as high as possible. The more ghouls you summon in lane, the higher chance you can out-trade and out-scale your opponent. Come level six, feel free to drop your ult on the enemy after you trap them in your W for an easy kill. Be careful though, missing your E or trying to fight without ghouls or a Maiden will likely spell death for you.
I can see Yorick being a real competitor for Shen’s "split push and TP into fights" strategy. Shen is a strong pick in the pro scene because of his ability to instantly teleport to a fight and sway the tides of battle with shields and cc. Yorick, on the other hand, can stick with the team the whole time, letting his Maiden shove a side lane while he fights the enemy elsewhere. This will force the enemy to send someone to stop the Maiden, making the fight in favor for Yorick’s team, or fight Yorick’s team immediately, possibly causing rushed bad decisions.
The only caveat to picking Yorick instead of Shen is that Yorick won’t be nearly as tanky since he lacks tanky stats and shields. Assuming your team has a tank elsewhere, Yorick will be a strong pick and will likely beat most competitive top laners in skill matchups.
Only time will tell of Yorick’s competitive viability, but I have high hopes for him. He seems like a strong split pusher with insane 1v1 and outplay potential. With sustain for the laning phase and tools to cause pressure situations for the enemy team, in the right hands, Yorick just might be the next big thing.