By Petar Vukobrat
September 19, 2019
We already went over the Taric Sona bottom lane combo back in July, and for a brief moment it looked like the meta reached a stalemate which, after months of experimentation, wasn’t such a bad thing. It felt like we’d seen it all and that a double support bottom lane was as far as things could go. Needless to say, we were wrong. This time around we have an equally potent combination — a Garen Yuumi bottom lane duo. A strange mix, that’s for sure. But despite its confusing nature, it’s an absolute powerhouse when piloted the right way. So let’s take a closer look at what it brings to the table, and why it rose to prominence even at the highest levels of play.
The Garen Yuumi bottom lane combo is basically an ingenious way to capitalize on a multitude of factors — the current meta and the staggering flexibility that it provides, support gold generation items and their abusable nature, and last but definitely not least, one of the most overpowered champions in the game right now: Yuumi.
Without Yuumi, this lane duo doesn’t make much sense. She’s the driving force behind it all, and also one of the most obnoxious champions Riot ever released. Now, we’re all aware of the many misfires and overloaded champions they’ve put out over the years, but none of them are as inherently strong and overwhelming (in the right hands) as Yuumi.
But that’s just one half of the combination.
Garen, just by himself, is a disgustingly powerful champion. And that’s mostly by design. He’s strong, he can build tanky and still dish out tons of damage, he has a built-in silence, AoE damage, tenacity, bonus armor, bonus magic resist, a ton of passive HP regen, along with an ultimate that basically works as an execute.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, his abilities require no mana. You can literally spam them on cooldown whenever they’re available. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is.
He is also bafflingly easy to pick up. His passive is incredibly forgiving (especially when you pair it with Doran’s Shield’s passive regen), he packs a lot of power in his ability kit and is generally as straight-forward of a champion as possible. You will never be confused about what you should do next as Garen or how. Just spam your abilities and run at your opponents until someone dies.
But, despite his many inherent strengths, he has more than just a few crippling weaknesses. His laning phase isn’t exactly his strong suit as he can easily be bullied and overwhelmed by a plethora of different champions — champions that don’t necessarily have to be meta picks. He’s also not the fastest of champions so you can easily kite him at will. Finally, if the player piloting Garen is unable to eke out an advantage in the early to mid game, he’s bound to become a complete non-factor by the time the late game comes around.
And that’s the key point. Pairing him with Yuumi not only nullifies most of his shortcomings, but also empowers his strengths. Yuumi can give him a bonus movement speed, she can heal him and she provides solid crowd control all while being invulnerable. And if her host — in this case Garen — is relatively unkillable, that means the Yuumi player can cruise along without ever worrying about dying.
Talk about overpowered.
The way a Garen Yuumi bottom lane pans out is fairly simple. Both champions start with support gold generation items — Garen goes for Relic Shield whereas Yuumi builds Spellthief’s Edge. When the laning phase begins, Garen will be the one doing all the farming, regardless if he has Relic stacks or not. Yuumi, on the other hand, will be focused on harassing and stacking her Spellthief’s.
By having support items, both champions can not only generate gold faster, but they can also build corresponding Sightstone items, meaning your team will have double the amount of wards. That’s absolutely huge, especially in a competitive setting where vision control plays such an integral role.
Once Garen finishes his first support item (in this case Remnant of the Aspect), he immediately starts building offensively. That means going for Black Cleaver first, and a metric ton of tank items afterwards. Items like Dead Man’s Plate, Spirit Visage, Gargoyle Stoneplate, Sterak’s Gage are all viable and highly preferred choices.
They make Garen into an unkillable semi-tank, while also giving him more than enough damage to stay relevant as the game progresses. Again, the Garen here isn’t that important — it’s the Yuumi that plays the role of an enabler. Finally, the fact that Garen’s ultimate passively marks the most successful enemy champion as the “villain” means he’ll dish out insane amounts of true damage against high priority targets regardless of his build.
As for Yuumi, things aren’t much different. After completing Frostfang, the Yuumi players starts building sheer ability power. And lots of it. You can either go for a Luden’s Echo as your first offensive item or, as an alternative, Mejai’s Soulstealer. Now, you might be scratching your head right about now, but don’t fret — it makes perfect sense. Seeing how Yuumi is untargetable while in her attached state, she can easily stack Mejai’s without ever putting herself in danger.
That means you can stack a surprising amount of AP and eventually dish out tons of damage. After Mejai’s, going for Rabadon’s Deathcap is the perfect way to further increase your AP. If you end up having all three of these items, you’ll be hitting like a truck.
Once that point of the game comes around, you’ll be the one dealing insane damage, whereas Garen will just be a vessel. A very tanky, relatively unkillable vessel with innate tenacity and a sizeable amount of damage.
The two of you will be creating absolute chaos. You’re a potent combo in team fights but also in 1 vs. 1 scenarios. You can split-push but also catch unsuspecting targets out of position, thanks to the speed boost on Garen’s Q and Yuumi’s ultimate. The way you play these two champions in the late game is fairly straight-forward, perhaps even more so than the Sona Taric bottom lane.
If you’re Garen, you want to go for Precision as your main Rune tree. The following set-up is fairly straight-forward.
Fleet Footwork — Fleet will provide you with both a heal as well as bonus movement speed whenever you reach 100 stacks. Both bonuses perfectly synergize with your ability kit and the way you want to play the game.
Triumph — Taking down an enemy champion will restore 12% of your missing health. Great for team fights and prolonged skirmishes.
Legend: Tenacity — Taking down an enemy champion will grant you permanent Tenacity. This is a big one as you want to run and engage as freely as possible. Getting all ten stacks will provide you with a whopping 30%. If you also go for Mercury’s Treads and activate your W “Courage” at the right moment, you’ll be unstoppable.
Coup de Grace — This rune will seriously boost your damage output against low health enemy champions.
As for your secondary tree, you should opt for Inspiration:
Magical Footwear — Free boots! You need all the money you can get in order to buy Black Cleaver as soon as possible, and not having to spend 300 gold on tier one boots will aid you in your mission.
Cosmic Insight — Bonus cooldown reduction, increased CDR cap, lower item cooldown along with lower Summoner Spell cooldown. There’s a lot packed into this one small rune.
If you’re Yuumi, on the other hand, you’re going for the following set-up: Sorcery as your primary, and Precision as your secondary tree.
Arcane Comet — The only logical choice, seeing how you’re going for a “harass as much as possible” kind of playstyle.
Manaflow Band — Hitting enemy targets will increase your maximum mana, up to a bonus of 250. After reaching that cap, you’ll restore 1% of your missing manage every five seconds. Great rune that will enable you in the early game.
Absolute Focus — While you’re above 70% health, you gain extra adaptive damage. Now, this one feels like cheating. Because you’ll almost always be in your attached state, you will always benefit from this bonus almost by default.
Scorch — Having extra damage in lane is all you need, especially considering the fact that you’re looking to harass as much as possible.
If you’re Garen, you want a ton of tankiness immediately after building Black Cleaver. You should go for Dead Man’s Plate second because it’ll provide a lot of health, armor, along with a fantastic passive, after which you can buy Sterak’s Gage (health along with a stellar passive, a literal life saver), and Randuin’s Omen (health, armor, and an active AoE slow).
You can also get items like Spirit Visage (health, magic resist, health regen, and cooldown reduction along with amplified healing) and Adaptive Helm (similar stats but with a passive that reduces subsequent magic damage that’s coming from the same spell or effect) if you’re against an AP-heavy team comp.
As for the boots of choice, you can go for Mercury’s Treads if you need even more Tenacity, Ninja Tabi if you’re against an AD-heavy team or Boots of Swiftness. They provide a flat bonus movement speed but also reduce the effectiveness of slowing effects by 25%. And as Garen the one thing you don’t want is to get slowed or stunned. You want as much speed and momentum as possible.
We already focused on Yuumi’s prefered item build above. Most Yuumi players don’t even buy boots because they don’t need them, so they go all-in on damage. Technically, you can also go for items like Ardent Censer (stronger heals, shield, bonus movement speed, AP, CDR, mana regen) and Athene’s Unholy Grail if you want a mix between damage and supporting. It’s not a bad path by any means, as both items synergize well with your kit and overall playstyle.
When Yuumi first came out, professional players struggled to find success. Everyone understood her strengths but finding the perfect use-case scenario proved to be quite the challenge. Her fragile nature meant that the player piloting her had to be flawless — no bad positioning and no over-extending. One mistake meant certain death.
But as the weeks went by (and as the meta developed), Yuumi quickly rose to prominence as a priority pick. Soon enough, she became first pick (or ban) worthy, and whenever she got through, the team that didn’t ban her regretted their decision almost immediately.
Fnatic demonstrates just how deadly the Garen/Yuumi bot lane combo can be
And that’s staggeringly different to her success rate in solo queue. At the time of this writing (patch 9.18), Yuumi sits at the very bottom amongst support picks with an unflattering 43.45% win rate when played by players in Platinum and above. This doesn’t mean she’s not strong, but rather that she thrives in an environment where communication flows without error. When you have five premade players, it’s easy for Yuumi to shine.
If, on the other hand, you can’t communicate easily with your lane partner and team, you’re bound to struggle.
The Garen Yuumi bottom lane duo kind of elevates her strengths to a whole ‘nother level because she’s no longer dependent on the whole team. Instead, she needs to worry about just one player. And seeing how Garen doesn’t require genius-level mechanics or in-depth game knowledge, you can find success more often than not.
Garen was never a good pick in competitive play for various reasons — some of which are mentioned above. But two months ago, once players caught wind of this dreaded combination, we’ve seen him picked in the LEC, TCL, LCL, LJL, LMS, LCK, and VCS. So three major regions and a handful of wildcard ones. His popularity spiked (primarily thanks to Yuumi) and is now considered as a very tough niche pick that can cause a lot of problems if left unchecked.
When you have the best and most storied AD carry in European history locking in Garen, then you know we’re talking about an overpowered combo. Fortunately, we don’t see as often because Yuumi is banned over 80% of the time. Regardless, it is a unique bottom lane duo and you’re bound to see it at the upcoming World Championship in October.
Tags: League of Legends