Hey guys, DC941 here, this time with more of a guide. I really like Yasuo as a champion in every point of his design – this is why I decided to learn as much as possible about him and play him whenever he can help me win. I will cover, runes, masteries, build options, and playstyles, giving you a good overview for playing both as and against Yasuo.
My background – why I like Yasuo
Back in Seasons 1 & 2, when everyone was bronze and no one had an idea of the game in general, I played with four friends to improve at the game and have some fun. I was filling the role of the AD-carry for our team. This period of play helped me gain experience with the extremely important skill of positioning yourself and kiting for cooldowns. After my friends and I stopped playing in the team and I tried out all of the roles on the rift, I came to halt in the mid lane, where my positioning and cooldown management skills helped me tremendously. However, I still had a high affinity to AD-carries and similar champions. With AD-casters becoming more and more playable, my champion pool shifted more and more towards them and assasins and general.
Yasuo is a special case; he is mainly a melee AD-carry, but his playstyle is highly mobile and focused on reaction time, hitting skillshots, and cooldown management. In addition to that, I really liked his cheesy samurai-theme. I decided to focus on him as much as possible – with this article/guide, I’d like to show you what I’ve learned about him since he was introduced to the PBE.
|Passive: Way of the Wanderer
Intent: Yasuo’s critical strike chance is doubled, but the damage dealt by his critical strikes is reduced by 10%.
Resolve: At maximum Flow, the next time Yasuo would take damage from a champion or monster he first converts his Flow into a shield that absorbs damage. After 2 seconds, if not already depleted, Yasuo’s loses all his Flow.
Intent is what differs Yasuo from being an underpowered mobility champion to a massively strong melee carry. It also defines his build choices: Statikk Shiv is incredibly strong on him since you crit a lot, apply it via Steel Tempest, and charge it very fast when you dash around with Sweeping Blade. To get the most profit out of the doubled crit chance, Infinity Edge should pretty much always be the second core buy. The negative point, 10% decreased critical damage, is actually quite noticeable in late game though.
Resolve, while overlooked in the beginning of the game, is extremely strong. The shield is kind of weak at early levels, but still strong enough to swallow some lane harass like Pantheon’s Spear Shot. It gives Yasuo a similar laning safeguard like Malphites passive. In the lategame, the shield is huge, providing over 600 points of effective health at close to the maximum level. This is even stronger due to the fact that you move faster the longer the game goes, especially with Statikk Shiv.
|Q: Steel Tempest
Yasuo thrusts his sword forward, damaging all enemies in a 475-unit line. If cast while dashing, the area of effect is changed to a ~375-radius circle.
Hitting Steel Tempest grants Yasuo one stack of the “gathering storm” buff. With two stacks, the next activation of Steel Tempest changes:
Yasuo brandishes his sword causing a whirlwind to tear forward, damaging and knocking airborne all enemies in a ~900-unit line. If cast while dashing, the area of effect is changed to an ~375-radius circle. This active resets the “gathering storm”-buff.
Steel Tempest can critically strike, dealing additional physical damage based on AD and critical damage. Additionally, on-hit effects will be applied to the first enemy hit within 475-unit range. The cooldown and cast time of Steel Tempest is reduced based on Yasuo’s bonus attack speed and unaffected by cooldown reduction.
Note that even though the third Steel Tempest (whirlwind) has a much higher range than the standard Q, on-hit effects are only applied if an enemy hit is within its standard range.
While Steel Tempest sounds pretty complicated at first, its a rather easy mechanic once you get the hang of it. It is similar to Karthus’s and Cassiopeia’s bread-and-butter skills since its fast, on a low cooldown, and always on smartcast. This means that your champion will always throws his sword towards your cursor.
The thing you have to get to know very well is its range. The unstacked casts have a shorter range than expected, and I miss some minions from time to time still due to me messing up on the range. Even more important is the third cast of Steel Tempest, as it enables your ultimate when your team has no other knockups. The E+Q AoE knockup is rather easy to hit, but the standard Q fires a whirlwind which is not that fast and can be dodge due to its smallish hitbox.
|W: Wind Wall
Passive: Yasuo generates a percentage of his maximum Flow whenever he uses Sweeping Blade or Last Breath, in addition to the amount that is generated for the distance moved.
Active: Yasuo creates a wall of wind that slowly drifts forward over the next 3.75 seconds. The wall blocks all enemy projectiles, except tower hits.
This skill is probably the single most effective protection ability in the game. While it is limited to projectiles, almost all spells in the game are projectiles, and its rather easy to tell if a spell is handled differently. There are two main ways to use Wind Wall:
Reactive: when you see a very important skillshot incoming (examples are Amumus Bandage Toss, Sejuanis Glacial Prison, or strong damage ultimates like Super Mega Death Rocket), you should use Wind Wall to stop them. The only skill you need for this is a good reaction time.
Protective: in 5v5 Teamfights, you can isolate the enemy backline from their frontline. This can be extremely game changing (for example against Ziggs – you can block his everything with your wall, partially even his ultimate, but I’m pretty sure that is a bug), as you can effectively create a new line of scrimmage for abilities to pass through, isolating key members’ offensive capabilities.
The wall always originates directly in front of Yasuo, moving slowly towards the direction it was aimed to. This makes it far easier to use reactive.
The passive effect is also pretty strong: due to Sweeping Blade covering a lot of distance very fast, it charges your passive shield relatively fast anyways, but through the increase, you can regain the shield in mere seconds with two or three dashes.
|E: Sweeping Blade
Yasuo dashes 475 units in the direction of the target enemy, dealing 70 / 90 / 110 / 130 / 150 (+ 60% AP) magic damage and marking them for 10 / 9 / 8 / 7 / 6 seconds. The speed of the dash scales with Yasuo’s bonus movement speed.Each cast increases the next dash’s base damage by 25%, up to 100% bonus damage. Yasuo cannot use Sweeping Blade on an enemy that’s already been marked.The dash works like Fizz’s Q: it covers a set distance. When you are in melee range of an enemy, the dash will stop a bit behind your target.
Sweeping Blade provides very strong mobility for Yasuo. It can be used to escape ganks via lane minions or jungle monsters. It’s also very strong for dancing around the lane; I’ve laned against Syndra twice with Yasuo and it was extremely hard for her to hit me with their skillshot since I could constantly change my position at a moment’s notice. The damage coming from it should also not be underrated.
In lane, you can use Sweeping Blade to last hit minions. This charges its damage, but also brings you close to your enemy – this can potentially be very dangerous at top lane, so keep track of your enemies cooldowns before doing so!
In teamfights and skirmishes, you’ll want to use Sweeping Blade as much as possible without blocking your escape and chasing options, since it charges both Resolve and Statikk Shiv very fast. Managing the marks is very important here.
|R: Last Breath
Yasuo blinks to the nearest visible airborne enemy champion to the cursor. Upon arriving, he suspends all airborne units within a 400-radius of his target in the air for 1 second while dealing physical damage to all of them. Once he lands, Yasuo gains 50% penetration to bonus armor for 15 seconds.Casting Last Breath will reset the chain on Steel Tempest. Yasuo is still targetable during Last Breath.
Last Breath is deceiving. Contrary to similar ultimates, Yasuo is still targetable, taking damage like normal, while keeping people in the air. These few seconds can be extremely important for a melee carry since you do not gain lifesteal while using the ultimate.
It is best used as an initiate or re-engage due to its low cooldown. When you hit a squishy target with your knockup, its often worth it to dive the enemy team to oneshot the backline, taking the enemy by surprise. However, keep track of important, deciding factors like Exhaust or Ignite (lifesteal-reduction) and big CCs before doing so though.
The ultimate is even better when paired with teammates. The best example is Malphite: the combination of Unstoppable Force and Last Breath can instantly win a teamfight, not only due to the prolonged CC, but also due to the extremely high distance covered by it. This gives Yasuo the possibility to close the gap very effectively while following up on the initiation right away. It is even better than the Orianna+Malphite combo since it gives Yasuo this gap closing chance on top of strong AoE CC. Another good example is Vi’s Assault and Battery to instantly take out one target or get Yasuo far ahead in laning.
Note that abilities that knock people around can also be used to cast Last Breath, examples including Orianna’s Shockwave and even Thresh’s Flay and Death Sentence (very strange, but right when the hook hits its target, Last Breath can be cast for a split second). These interactions may be cleaned up in the future, but at the moment Yasuo’s targets can be anyone affected by the slightest hint of displacement.
Gameplay and skill orders with fitting runes
While Yasuos kit looks extremely focused on his Q, his skillset is quite flexible. I tried different skill rankings with fitting rune sets to see what works best – here is what I experienced.
Never stop moving. Be it dashing with Sweeping Blade or just walking, never ever stop moving, not even between autoattacks. Both the shield from Resolve and the damage burst from Statikk Shiv are really strong and charged with movement distance.
Now that you know about the most important habit to get used to, lets look into specific behavior:
Yasuos main goal when laning is not to make plays and overpower the enemy laner – it is to get as much safe gold as possible without falling behind. Therefore, always try to farm as your main objective. When the enemy makes mistakes, deal out appropriate harass him and outtrade him, but do not make it your top priority in laning. Before getting Statikk Shiv and later Infinity Edge, Yasuos damage output is relatively unreliable and lower than of other champions. Always try to survive to not fall behind in experience and gold since that is really problematic on farm dependent champions.
In mid lane, dodge skillshots and AoE damage fields with Sweeping Blade to get your CS safely. Small harass attacks like Oriannas Q, Pantheons Q or LeBlancs Q can get blocked by Resolve, so try to stay out of autoattack range to preserve the shield. When the enemy laners misses a skillshot, you can go and punish him for his cooldown, but be wary of the jungler and the remaining cooldowns. Always try to keep one minion unmarked to back off quickly after a trade, building up your Resolve shield. If you go against a melee mid laner, you have very high chances of success in open combat. Melee matchups like Gragas, Fizz, Diana or Katarina can go very well for Yasuo due to his shield, constant harass, and strong autoattacks. These matchups typically force the enemy to use their ranged abilities to farm since Yasuo can punish them stepping into melee range very hard. Against abusive champions like Orianna or Ziggs I tend to start with Doran’s Shield to get some more lane sustain; otheriwise Doran’s Blade provides nice sustain too (its heal is proc’ced trough Steel Tempest!) and scales better with lifesteal.
In top lane, you can play defensive, but still opportunistically. Hit every Steel Tempest on both champions and CS since it has no unit collision and avoid trading far in lane without a Sweeping Blade mark available for escape. Lifesteal is very important here to keep up with the sustain meta so your Infinity Edge might be delayed 800g for a Vampiric Scepter. I typically win against my enemy here before the first back due to the additional autoattack on a low cooldown, but when the enemy gets tankier (which is most of the time after the first back) and you start depending on unreliable critical hits, you lose in fights. Between the first back and the acquisition of Statikk Shiv, you should play even more defensively. This can force you to get a lot of scattered stats (Vampiric Scepter for the mandatory Life Steal, Avarice Blade to use the gold gain before getting Statikk Shiv, a defensive item to survive laning).
If you manage to get ahead and hold of Infinity Edge, you will be extremely strong. No champions has a power spike as strong as Yasuo when he gets IE+Statikk Shiv so try to abuse it. I always tell my team to force fights at this point since I’m mostly able to two- or three-hit their backline champions.
In teamfights with more than three enemies, you need to keep track of the CC cooldowns. When you dive in to kill and get CCd, it is very likely that you die before you can deal any damage. Always look for a way to flank the enemy team before a fight and try to hang around the sides of the teams. When hard to dodge abilities are on cooldown, try to go for the backline. You have to rely on Wind Wall to minimize the amount of help the enemy supports can provide for your target or to shield you from the backline damage – you pretty much can decide yourself if you want to shred the tanks or go for the backline instead.
Did I mention you should never stop moving?
Maxing Steel Tempest
This is the most obvious and optimal way to play: maxing Q gives a higher bonus damage on every cast. It does not change its cooldown, however. Steel Tempest is very strong for minion control due to its AoE and to last hit without walking up close to the minions – this small distance coverage can make a big difference, giving him the option of a relatively safe playstyle similar to Dr.Mundos cleaver-farming.
When maxing Q, I use the following runes:
This rune setup grants you 31 of both resistances at level 1, a good base AD to control minions, and the 10% crit chance base to reach 100% with a full build. This works since both 4.8% crit chance as well as 9.6% crit chance are being rounded up ingame.
With these stats you have a pretty strong early game. I’ve won every top lane matchup with this setup before the first back. The constant harass from Q is pretty strong when you can close distance. This is, however, pretty difficult to use against ranged laners.
Maxing Sweeping Blade
This works best mid lane since it gives you less cooldown on your gap closing mechanics as well as a surprisingly high burst damage. It is difficult to use in top lane however since matchups there are mostly about constant damage output and sustain instead of burst. Your Q still provides good damage, even when maxed last or second.
With this skill ranking, you should typically try to go for short trades, utilizing both your charged E and your shield to outtrade the enemy. To avoid backfire, keep at least one enemy minion unmarked to charge back closer to your own tower after trading.
The rune setup for this should be pretty similar. However I tested running Hybrid Penetration marks instead of attack damage (Sweeping Blade is magic damage)- it works quite well too, especially with a Dorans Blade start. Note that any amount of Ability Power is almost completely useless on Yasuo since the charged damage from E only applies to it’s base damage.
I used these masteries every time:
An alternative offensive setup would use all 3 points in Warlord instead of Spell & Blade Weaving, but since Yasuo should in theory profit off of the Weaving masteries very well, they should be a priority.
If you struggle with Yasuos early game a lot, you should think about using defensive masteries instead. However, the sacrifice of the dual penetration mastery was never worth the trade for me since Yasuo deals quite a lot of damage with Statikk Shiv and Sweeping Blade.
Mid vs Top
With Yasuo’s flexibility and great defensive kit for laning, he can excel in both mid and top quite well. The best position is in mid lane when playing against melee assassins or casters since Yasuo has both strong sustained damage and burst to handle these champions.
Mid vs ranged mages:
|Pros||– Good minion control with Steel Tempest
– possible good trades versus some mid laners with his E damage due to close proximity of the tower
– escapes and additional farm trough wraiths
– higher chance of killing the enemy due to them being squishy
– Wind Wall can be an extremely deciding factor against mages
|Cons||– pushing/harassing focused mages can be very abusive (Orianna or Ziggs) and extremely hard to handle
– harassing with Steel Tempest almost impossible due to its range, knockup is also easy to do on longer ranges
|Pro||– close proximity to your enemy make sit easier to harass with Steel Tempest- constantly building up Gathering Storm is easier
– being far away from objectives can give you more time to farm up and get to your strong point
|Cons||– kills are harder to do since top lane is mainly manned by tanky champions at the moment
– can snowball harder than mid into enemies favor
Overall, I prefer playing him mid since I tend to roam a lot and try to make plays with my jungler, but I’ve had more success top lane. It pretty much comes down to personal preference in the end. Try to go where you can get the most gold through your playstyle!
This is the most difficult point for most people, I feel. More often than not, Yasuo players tend to go for items like Trinity Force or Blade of the Ruined King, but I think that these are massive traps that require a lot of gold without providing enough efficiency. This is the case due to two things:
– You want to abuse Intent. It is the single strongest thing about Yasuo’s kit, not his base damage, which would justify Trinity Force. Get that critical hit chance and make it even stronger through Infinity Edge!
– Q has a cooldown cap. While it is available more often with more attack speed, this also takes your base attack speed and attack speed per level into account – this means that at lvl 18, the cooldown reduction is almost capped anyways. Statikk Shiv brings you the only missing attack speed to get the maximum cooldown reduction on Steel Tempest, so do not ever get Blade of the Ruined King when you can survive with Bloodthirster or Ravenous Hydra instead!
I divide my building decision into two ways; however, it doesn’t matter how you play, always get a Vampiric Scepter even before finishing Statikk Shiv. You need to have some AD to back up your critical hits and the sustain provided by lifesteal is extremely important both top and mid. I get always Mercury’s Treads as my boots to minimize the impact of enemy CC though.
When I play mid and my team picks a tanky top that can initiate or peel, I always try to go for a melee carry oriented build with only 1 survivability item. Since I provide a big part of damage for my team, I always try to rush both Statikk Shiv and Infinity Edge to back this up. Afterwards, you have to make a decision:
– If the enemy team doesn’t like you, you will get focused a lot. You should get a defensive item next to tank some more damage before going down, maximizing your impact on teamfights even when behind.
– If you are far ahead or the enemy doesn’t protect their backline against you for some reason, you want even more damage. I tend to finish Ravenous Hydra then since it works with Steel Tempest and provides very strong stats. You don’t even need to get Last Whisper since Last Breaths armor penetration buff is extremely strong. If you don’t want to depend on it, go for Last Whisper instead.
If I only get a single defensive item, I almost always go for Randuin’s Omen. It provides better defensive stats than Sunfire Cape (and you absolutely don’t need the damage provided by the AoE burn) and helps lower the damage output of marksmen, your primary targets. The health it provides also shields you against magic burst long enough to get into destruction range. If I still get destroyed, I get Spirit Visage instead of Last Whisper to maximize my lifesteal return.
On top lane, this is quite similar, but in a different order: at top, you need sustain and defensive stats early on, so I tend to get Wardens Mail or Spectre’s Cowl before finishing Statikk Shiv. Don’t finish Ravenous Hydra before getting both Spirit Visage and Randuin’s Omen unless you have an extremely tanky jungler with a lot of CC in the team (Sejuani, Malphite with Orianna mid for example).
If you can get damage without dying, buy:
If you bursted or the enemy team always manages to focus on you, opt for:
The overall state of the Unforgiven
With the right item build, Yasuo is exceptionally strong, especially due to his resourceless nature. His mechanics need some time getting used to, and missing your crucial knockups or forgetting to track your Sweeping Blade marks can make him quite unforgiving, too. But once you get the hang of him, he is 100% viable in his current state. I’m not sure if he will enter competitive play since squishy tops don’t really have a chance there and mids tend to bring the CC and siege power for a team, but if a team focuses on Yasuo as their strategic core, we could see him.
In solo queue, Yasuo is extremely strong due to his unrivaled power spike with Statikk Shiv and/or Infinity Edge. No one expects him to two-shot your carry twenty or thirty minutes into the game with nothing but farm. His teamfight synergy is also great, and picking knockups just to make Yasuo more effective can boost your team 5v5 strength dramatically.
With that being said, Yasuo is for me also one of the most fun champions in the game currently; and that should in the end be the most important thing, right?
By the way, did I mention you should never stop moving?