SINCE SOME PEOPLE SEEM TO BE MISSING IT, THE TL;DR IS AT THE BOTTOM
So recently, there’s been a change to Master Yi, specifically that the AP ratio on his Meditate has gone down by 50%. I am quite surprised and disappointed that they would nerf AP Yi at all, let alone this significantly. I have three main points to address this issue.
Why the changes harm Master Yi so significantly
Master Yi has been a champion that’s been seen as trash tier and ridiculously OP, depending on the season. Master Yi was often considered a troll pick, and at the same time, often carried games single-handedly. When Dominion came out, it was Master Yi, all day, every day. After it stopped being as popular, he went back to being “bad”. The reason for this is the fact that his kit is very much hit-or-miss, in that you’ll either be carrying, or doing awful. There’s not a lot of in-between because of the way he kills people and the way his ult works. Ever since the release of Fiora, she’s outclassed AD Yi in every way, making AP Yi the more attractive option. Her untargetable gapcloser keeps her untargetable for just as long as Yi’s, if not longer, and actually scales off of AD, so it will do damage late game. A lot of damage. A 1000 damage minimum plus 2.4 scaling of bonus AD lot of damage. Yi’s will do 300, with no AD scaling, which is only 40 more damage than what Fiora will do with Riposte, which grants Fiora the same AD bonus as Yi’s wuju style. Yi can double that, but then he’ll lose all of it after it goes off cooldown, and Fiora will not. Fiora also has a double gap-closer with her Lunge (which scales off AD as well), outside of the one on her ult, and a move speed steroid on her Burst of Speed. Yi has an attack speed steroid on his ult as well, except in a teamfight, he NEEDS to get a kill to refresh it. An assist won’t cut it. Fiora’s also resets on kills and half the cooldown on assist, but the cooldown on her attack speed steroid is much shorter, so she’ll be able to use it again with just 1 assist. Yi will never contribute anything to a team that a Fiora could not contribute better. Yi will also never beat Fiora in a one-on-one.
Yi receives a 100 healing increase at max rank on his Meditate to compensate for reducing the scaling by half. The change to the base amount is worth 25 AP with his original scaling. That’s NOTHING. AP Yi had 3 good things about his kit. A 4-target untargetable 1:1 AP scaling nuke, a massive heal where he becomes nigh-unkillable, and the ability to do it again if he kills someone. Here’s the problem. The base cooldown on Alpha Strike is 10 seconds at max rank, so once you use it, you’ve got 10 seconds to stay alive. Unless he’s been skirting the edge of the field contributing nothing up until this point, waiting to swoop in and try to pick up a kill, that Alpha Strike isn’t killing anyone. Yi will need to meditate to avoid being instantly killed, since he’ll have not built very tanky because he needs so much AP for his Q. Even if he gets all of his meditate off, that still leaves 5 seconds before he can do it again. Let’s say he has CDR or got an assist, and does it again. Now he’s got nothing to contribute unless he scored a kill that time. But he won’t get this far because he won’t be able to meditate for 5 seconds in the middle of a teamfight because teams carry CC, which brings me to my next point.
Why the video is f*cking stupid
The complaint is that Yi heals too hard. To illustrate this, they pit Fiora against him repeatedly, and have her burn cooldowns on him whilst he is meditating (will never happen), which makes it more ridiculous because Fiora would absolutely destroy AP Yi, especially one-on-one, but that’s only one instance. The other is Fiora, Kayle, and Mundo fighting Yi at dragon. This one irritates the hell out of me. To demonstrate how strong his meditate is, they throw 3 champs at him, and say “Look, not even concentrated fire from 3 champions can bring him down in meditate.” Well no sh*t, they can’t. Who the f*ck focuses damage on AP Yi while he’s channeling? You’re supposed to interrupt his long-ass channel, but look at that, they don’t have ANY CC, for some reason. They might as well have been commenting “Wow, look how awful our team comp is, we have no CC’s other than slows at all, AND they’re burning their ults against him when he’s meditating, rather than waiting 4 seconds like normal people would and killing him then.”
Seriously. They might as well have a video showing Kayle getting ulted by Darius, Lux, and Garen at the same time, and say “Her ultimate is just a little too strong. Look at how these 3 champions can’t kill her during it.” No sh*t. Wait 4 seconds, or interrupt it. It’s not even as if he’s about to kill them when the channeling ends. He’s just healing. He’s not DOING anything to the enemy team outside of that Alpha Strike at the end, which SHOULD have been followed up by Reckoning, Blade Waltz, and a chain of cleavers for an easy kill. I hope that Yi’s team had Nunu support and Fiddlesticks jungle to punish their stupid team comp. It’s not like it’s Fiddlesticks with a Will of the Ancients ulting in and fearing Fiora and draining Kayle, scoring a double kill before flashing away from Mundo. Yi’s just healing, and his opponents are acting stupid, but I think we all already know that the spotlights and patch previews are heavily staged in favor of the point they’re making. Stuff in those videos never actually occurs, so we’ll move on to discussing an actual game.
What actual counterplay is, and why it isn’t difficult
So we’ve got a video where they picked a team (presumably) without any cc harder than a slow. Ignoring the fact that their most recently released champion has 2 abilities that would interrupt Yi’s Meditate, and there’s no reason for him not to show up since recently released champions so often do show up in these videos, let’s find out exactly how hard it would be to make a team that can’t stop Yi’s Meditate at all.
Katarina (Although her Grievous Wounds halves his scaling)
Miss Fortune (Although her Grievous Wounds halves his scaling)
These are your champions without any method of breaking a channeled ability. 37 champions out of 110. In other words, 66% of all champions have at least 1 ability to break Yi’s Meditate early. Picking none of them is absolutely stupid. Your team comp should have a balance of crowd controls, damage types, and tankiness so you’re not shut down by a single champion. It’s not even as if you need to have 1 per each champion. A single Alistar, Cho’gath, Blitzcrank, Riven, Fiddlesticks, Leona, Nami, Nautilus, or Xin Zhao, will provide multiple, reliable crowd controls for your team fighting ability. If you can’t save at least 1 ability to interrupt Yi’s meditate, you have poor planning or a poor teamcomp, and he’s going to heal to full. Whoop-de-doo. Kill someone else in the meantime. It’s not as if he’s aced your team by doing this. You planned this poorly, and the only negative consequence is that one character takes longer to kill.
“But what if he gets a kill?” Well, number 1, if you buy any kind of health or magic resist, that won’t be a problem. Yi becomes worthless if he can’t score a kill on his first Alpha Strike, so he’ll either have to be sitting the teamfight out for the first half, or he’ll have to be against Team Glass Cannon. Buy a Banshee’s Veil or Spirit Visage if you’re not going to buy anything else defensive. Yi’s ult was the original Darius’s ult, but it’s a hell of a lot harder to reset. The ult doesn’t DO any damage. It also doesn’t help you kill people if you’re AP. It just allows you to cast your spell again, IF YOU CAN RESET IT. It doesn’t deal true damage, it doesn’t empower his Q, and he’s got to gamble using it before he Q’s, because he has to land a kill if he uses it, but if he gets a kill and was saving his ult, he’s got to wait to try again. Darius can GUARANTEE that his will kill people and reset, and he’s got the rest of his kit to deal damage with (and yet people seem to think he’s less deserving of a nerf than Yi, but I digress). If you can prevent HIM from getting that kill, either through tankiness, spell-blocking, MR, or baiting his ult, there goes his teamfight potential. But that’s just teamfighting. Most of the complaints are about the laning phase.
I've played as AP Yi, and I've played against AP Yi plenty of times. What common mids will always have a CC for Yi when he goes to meditate during the laning phase? Cho’gath has 2. Ahri has a ranged Charm. Kassadin has a ranges silence. Malzahar has 2, one of which instantly kills him. Ziggs has a ranged Satchel. Viktor’s got a ranged slow that will stun him after a few moments of meditating. Twisted Fate can pull a gold card. Talon has a gap-closing silence. Syndra’s got a ranged knockback. Kennen has tons of ranged abilities to stun with. Brand has his stun combo, which is easy to hit against a stationary target. Annie has a stun up most of the time. Anivia has her iceball. Elise has a ranged stun. Le Blanc should have no trouble landing a silencing combo. Xerath has a long ranged stun combo. If you’re any of these champions, you should have no difficulty keeping him from meditating, or keeping him zoned behind his turret because he’ll have to push his wave when he Alpha Strikes. Plus, there are several other mids that have ults that knockback/up.
And if you happen to be a mid without a silence, stun, taunt, or knockback/up, don’t despair. Master Yi’s cooldown on his Meditate is 35 seconds at all ranks. That is a LONG time to ult and kill him the next time he comes in, because he’ll have no defenses other than ulting to runaway, which won’t be a problem for those with bindings or gap-closers that have been waiting patiently because they can’t interrupt Meditate outright. If you fail all of that, you’ve got another chance to grab kills on Yi easily by having a jungler with a decent CC and jumping onto him when he goes to Alpha Strike. There is so much counterplay capability, it’s really shameful to say that “We’re going to nerf this champion because people have forgotten how easy it is to interrupt channels,” or that “People find it annoying to fight a champion that can heal himself to full every 35 seconds, and don’t capitalize during that long of a down-time.”
The last time Yi’s Meditate was changed was to remove the start-up time before channeling, back at Vi’s release. The last time anything mechanic-wise changed about his ability was back when AKALI was released, in May of 2010, when they added his Armor and MR bonus, decreased the cooldown by 10 seconds at all ranks, and decreased the base heal at each rank (400 at max rank). Nothing has changed about Yi for almost 3 years, and suddenly he’s 50% stronger than he needs to be when he heals. Really? Just because Katarina FOTM can’t kill Yi as easily as everyone else, he’s suddenly too hard to lane against? Katarina is countered just as hard by anyone who can break channels. Kat players should know to pick someone else against Yi in draft, or to ask for top to swap with her. And if that’s not a possibility, oh well. You got counter-picked. It happens. Fiora beats the hell out of Master Yi when he’s AD, but you don’t see Fiora in toplane any more because of the monster that is Darius who counters everything melee (and can also interrupt Yi’s Meditate). Changes to the meta don’t suddenly make a champion OP. Yi’s been using the same items when going AP for the last 2+ years. This is a knee-jerk nerf by Riot, which trashed half of his AP kit, and frankly, I’m incredibly ashamed of them.
tl;dr because this is very long: Fiora outclasses AD Yi, so AP is the most viable way to play Yi. Scenarios in patch previews are staged bullsh*t. 66% of all champions can interrupt his Meditate, so pick at least 1 and save it if you’re not brain-dead. If you read this tl;dr and you agree, great, lemme know what you think. If you read this tl;dr and disagree, post what you think as well, and consider the actual post my rebuttal to you. Read that next.