Eating the Competition – Why Tahm Kench is Big in Pro Play



Mon 9th Apr 2018 - 5:00pm

Tahm Kench, the River King, has been a staple of pro play in the last few weeks. But why? In this piece, I hope to outline and explain the main reasons that we are seeing the catfish so much as a member of the pro support pick club in the current meta.

He’s a Tank Support

Currently we are seeing a selection of damage bruisers in the Top lane with picks such as Swain, Gnar, Camille, and even Fiora seeing the limelight. While these champions can have a huge impact on any match with their mix of increased damage to that of a tank while having more HP than an outright carry, it means that a true tank has to come from another role (unless you want to run a no tank comp which is very risky and ill-advised).

This is where Tahm Kench can shine, since Tahm Kench’s E, Thick Skin, grants him the ability to potentially double his damage absorption in teamfights while also regenerating health in post-combat scenarios means building all-out tank stats and becoming a true tank, which means his team now has the flexibility to select a bruiser in another role that would typically be required to have a tank champion in its place. This ability of being able to fulfill the Tank role is one reason of many that Tahm is currently considered meta in pro play.

Tahm’s E, Thick Skin, means his tanking potential is higher than other tank supports.

Surprising Aggression

Now typically tank picks tend to have low levels of damage output due to the lack of damage items in their builds and their tendency of being required for the role of ‘meat wall,’ where they stand in front of the team’s carries and block incoming skillshots.

However, Tahm Kench can still bring the hurt in the lane as the base damages of his Q and E, Tongue Lash and Devour, are nothing to be underestimated and if a squishy champion (like, say, an ADC in the bot lane, how convenient) gets on the receiving end, it can lead to some serious kill potential. Therefore, the big catfish can actually provide for getting a carry ahead by providing kill setup in the bot lane which is desirable in lane regardless of what meta is in place. It is this potential (and pro player's ability to use it) that may have contributed to the Kench being unbenched in the minds of professional players in recent times.

The base damage on TK’s damaging abilities such as his Q, Tongue Lash, is surprisingly high.

Pick Denial

Most of the more traditional tankier supports that are relevant in the current meta such as Thresh, Braum, and Alistar serve the role of single target engage before then being a meat shield frontline in a traditional teamfight (of course the fight more likely to be won if that engage is on the right target like the super squishy damage dealers like Jinx).

This, though, plays right into Tahm Kench’s tiny hands as Tahm’s W, Devour, cannot only be used to eat enemies for dealing damage but also to eat allies to save them from single target CC (see where I’m going with this?) before becoming a superior frontline tank himself (since he can tank more than other tank supports since he is naturally tankier and has a tank orientated spell with his E, Thick Skin) with great re-engage potential thanks to his teamfight extending kit.

Therefore, since TK can go through the process of saving his carry to deny the enemy engage, then match and out-tank the enemy support before completing the combo with a tasty re-engage to complete the counter. This ability to counter the play order of the other meta tank supports could be one of the reasons that pros currently place value on the River King.

The Kench’s W, Devour, can save an ally from a lot of single target attacks, denying many engages and picks. 

Cross Map Playmaker

Most supports that aren’t troll picks need to buy Mobility boots to be able to get to other lanes to gank them and have an impact in decent time. This is why we see mobility boots as an early purchase for playmaking supports such as Thresh and Morgana. This is due to the massive out of combat movement speed increase it gives, but the 900-gold cost (600 if you run the Magical Footwear rune) is a huge investment in the early game, especially for a support.

But guess what, Tahm Kench can overcome even with his ultimate, Abyssal Voyage. With it, he can roam to other lanes quickly to create pressure just like other traditional support playmakers. The usage of this utilitarian ultimate is even enhanced further later on as he can transport himself alongside an ally to allow them to make plays around objectives. It is this extra utility that has pushed Tahm into the forefront of the current metagame in Season 8’s spring competitions.

The River King’s Ulti, Abyssal Voyage, is one of the greatest utility spells in all of LoL when it comes to playing macro around objectives which is huge in pro play.



To conclude Tahm Kench has carved himself a very strong spot in this current metagame of melee tank supports in the bottom lane. This is mainly due to his ability to out-tank and out-damage other tanks while being able to neutralize their strength of bring single target engage to the table and being able to play around the objectives with his team. This combination of traits has made Tahm become an asset to any team in terms of both macro and micro, making him a true threat and forefront of the meta. I hope this piece has increased your understanding of why the top flight values the Kench and with that GL, HF, and GG.