Tahm Kench is a big beefy boy. He also is that perfect mix of fun to play as/with and awful to play against.
This is exactly what you want in a jungler, the perfect tilt-machine.
But Kench has sadly been relegated to a situational support pick. Well, the new runes have opened doors for a lot of weird champions in weird roles. Fret not Kench enthusiasts (read: me), I have discovered a new way to un-bench the Kench.
Jungle Tahm isn’t just fun, it’s actually very, very good.
We have to start here. This is by far the weirdest part of jungle Kench. One could assume that the Resolve tree is the obvious choice for a beefy boy such as Tahm.
But there is a much better, much weirder, better option.
Ah yes, the Precision tree. While Precision has two of the most OP keystones in the game at the moment, we’re going for the least popular of the three.
Fleet Footwork, for those who don’t know, heals you when it procs and increases your movement speed by 30 percent. It charges up just like Statikk Shiv when you move or attack and pops frequently. It can be used on champions and monsters. If jungle Kench has always had a problem, it’s been keeping up with his enemies. Fleet Footwork solves that problem beautifully.
The goal of Kench jungle is to devour them and carry them toward your team. Unfortunately, you need to auto three times to devour a champion. With Fleet Footwork, you can get up on your enemy and stick to them. The first auto attack becomes a death sentence for your enemy and a guaranteed kill for your team, as finishing off the rest of those licks is easy as hell thanks to the speed boost.
Triumph is the obvious choice for Kench. Tahm is a tower diving master who is able to smash fools in danger after he has Cinderhulk. I have been able to jump under tower in the first ten minutes, get a double for my bot lane and get out with enough health to fend off a counter gank. All of that would not be possible without the extra healing from Triumph.
For our Legend rune, we actually want to take Tenacity. Tahm is a very powerful champion, but he is extremely easy to pin down if the enemy team has any amount of CC. Being able to shrug that off in the mid to late game is crucial for teamfight success.
There are a couple options for the final rune. While Coup de Grace is extremely good in most situations, I would actually suggest Last Stand for Tahm. Because of his E, Tahm can spend a lot of time at very low health, so Last Stand actually helps make him a fairly formidable duelist. If you’re running up against a Kha or a fed AD Carry, they will be surprised to see how lethal you get when it gets down to it.
Resolve will be our secondary tree. We’re taking some boring runes here that require little to no explanation. Conditioning just gives you free tank stats and Second Wind helps you heal mid-combat.
You want to start with a Hunter’s Machete (the extra attack speed from Precision makes this pretty great) and a Refillable Potion. We’re going to work first toward getting Stalker’s Blade: Cinderhulk (1). After that, get your boots and upgrade them to Boots of Swiftness (2). This should help Tahm by giving him some extra slow resist and also making him fast as hell in combat.
In terms of actual tank gear, we’ll be picking up a Righteous Glory (3) and a Dead Man’s Plate (4) to keep us speedy. These two are going to be buys pretty much every game, baring a weird all AP comp.
In terms of situational items, we have four other great pickups (5-6):
- Spirit Visage is going to be our go-to MR item, since it also increases our E healing.
- Warmog’s Armor will help add lots of extra health and keep us rolling well after a fight is over.
- Thornmail is for those special games with OP AD Carries. If the enemy has a Jinx or a Twitch, you almost certainly want one of these.
- Gargoyle’s Stoneplate is for any game where teamfights are frequent (if you don’t know what to build next, defaulting to this item isn’t the worst idea).
First let’s talk about ability maxing. You want to max your default abilities in this order:
Devour > Tongue Lash > Thick Skin
You should obviously take your ultimate, Abyssal Voyage, whenever it’s available.
Maxing Devour first might seem weird, especially since you can’t devour Red or Blue buff. However, this is our main damage spell and can be used to save our allies from death. It’s Tahm’s most important spell for ganking and saving, so we max it first.
When we’re talking about our first clear we want to start a little differently. Take Tongue Lash first and then grab Devour. Use Devour to spit your second camp’s big monster back at the pack. This does a ton of AoE damage. If you start on red side, you can also finish off the Murkwolves by grabbing the Alpha and spitting him at the Blue buff, helping deal some burst to the Sentinel. Buff clearing is the slowest part of Tahm jungle, so just auto and Tongue Lash as much as possible.
When it comes time to gank, put yourself in the best place possible to auto the enemy. Come in from the back or whatever you need. Tongue Lash them to get a slow, walk up and start autoing. Thanks to Fleet Footwork and your attack speed bonus, you should be able to get three stacks of An Acquired Taste in no time. One you hit six, you can also use Abyssal Voyage to carry yourself instantly behind the enemy champion in lane. This is especially great if you want to grab the mid laner for a four man in the bot lane.
However, just because you can Devour does not mean that you should Devour. Hitting a three stacked target with Tongue Lash will stun them, so you have options. Watch for your teammate’s damage. Are they about to ult? Yes? Maybe don’t eat the enemy then and stun them instead. If you don’t have to Devour, awesome, let your allies get the kill and walk away a happy fish. However, Devour is an excellent kill secure. If you think the enemy will get away, pop them in your mouth and carry them over to your allies. Most champions will die seconds after being spit out.
What makes jungle Tahm so great is how versatile he is. It doesn’t really matter how the game goes, you can change your playstyle to improve your chance at victory. Are you super fed? Use your Devour to deal tons of damage to enemies, especially tanks. Is your AD Carry or mid laner struggling to stay alive in fights? Use your Devour to carry them to safety or help engage a fight from a better angle.
Tahm is a surprising jungle pick. Nobody really knows how to deal with him and he is incredible powerful. Over the long weekend, I played eight games of Tahm Kench jungle. I was able to win six of those games, including the first one I ever tried this build on.
It’s that good.
Try it out, un-bench the Kench for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments or @RyGilliam on Twitter.