We’ve almost finished dredging up League’s latest monstrosity! Tahm Kench is a tough solo lane or support tank with a taste for… well, pretty much everything. He’ll happily munch down on an enemy champion once he’s slathered them up, stowing them in his sizeable belly - and out of a fight - while the River King’s allies leverage their advantage. But Tahm Kench’s stomach isn’t reserved solely for his enemies: after swallowing an ally, the tanky fish-man can dive into one of his signature whirlpools before throwing himself towards the enemy team.
Tahm Kench applies a stack of An Acquired Taste to all enemy champions he hits with basic attacks or damaging abilities. Once he’s applied three stacks, he can interact with them… differently.
Tahm Kench roots himself briefly while launching his tongue in a target direction. Tongue Lash stops once it hits a target, damaging and slowing whatever he hits. If Tahm Kench slathers an enemy champion with three stacks of An Acquired Taste then hits them with Tongue Lash, he stuns them instead.
Tahm Kench briefly swallows a nearby targeted unit. Enemies suffer a portion of their max health as magic damage. In addition:
Passive: All damage Tahm Kench takes is turned into grey health. Once he leaves combat, the grey health falls off, healing him for a portion of the amount of grey health he’s earned.
Active: Tahm Kench converts his grey health into a shield that quickly falls off.
Passive: All of Tahm Kench’s damage scales with his maximum health.
Active: Tahm Kench opens his maw, offering an ally a spot inside his belly. Once they jump in, or once Tahm Kench decides he’s diving solo, he starts channeling, conjuring a whirlpool beneath him before diving in, reappearing a few seconds later at his target location. Abyssal Voyage has a huge range, but the ability is pretty well telegraphed by its lengthy cast.
Tahm Kench makes for a fine support thanks to his unrivalled ability to save his marksman from otherwise impending death. Once he’s wobbled into lane, his main role is to stick with his lane buddy, making sure they’re safe and able to farm at will. If the enemy manages to slow or stun his ally, Tahm Kench simply Devours them before heading to safety. The effect lasts longer than most crowd control abilities, so even if the enemy team manages to land a perfect catch on the River King’s marksman, Tahm Kench effectively cleanses it before repositioning somewhere safer. What’s more, should he end up on the receiving end of enemy attacks as he waddles away, Thick Skin’s passive offers the River King plenty of regenerative support. Finally, even if the enemy team commits to trading in lane, Tahm Kench can turn his attention to the enemy damage dealer, slathering them up with his passive before Devouring them to create a super powerful - albeit temporary - two vs one scenario.
His versatility really shines in ganks, too. Aside from offering his ally the same unmatched protection during enemy ganks, he can get pretty mouthy in allied ganks, too. Meandering out of lane under the pretense of warding, Tahm Kench can meet up with his jungler before using Abyssal Voyage to set up a gank.
"Boy the world's one river, and I'm its king. Ain't no place I ain't been. Ain't no place I can't go again."
Tahm Kench is tanky enough to take a licking as well as give one, so he’s best positioned amongst his minions when he heads to a solo lane. From there the River King’s free to last hit and trade with his opponent as he sees fit. The thing to remember with Tahm Kench is that even when he goes even in trades, he wins thanks to Thick Skin’s passive, which regenerates enough of the River King’s health to make otherwise questionable trades more palatable. If it looks like the enemy’s trying to all-in him, Tahm Kench can Devour his enemy for a burst of damage and some uninhibited healing, or, if he hasn’t applied enough stacks of his passive, activate Thick Skin for a life-saving shield.
But how does the velvet-voiced monstrosity actually fight? Well, most of his early poke and harass comes from Tongue Lash. Fishing for direct hits on enemy champions, or better still, pulling off the stun, should give Tahm Kench the edge in most of his tank battles. But once he’s fully applied An Acquired Taste to his snakebit target, he has far more tricks to show them than a measly stun. Devour is a deeply versatile ability that gives the River King options aplenty, even during the early stages of the game. He can munch down on his lane opponent as they push up to the tower, then, with clever timing, spit them out behind his tower just as it obliterates the last of the minions. Better still, Tahm Kench can Devour his enemy as his jungler comes in for a gank. His hapless victim won’t see their approaching death thanks to the greatly reduced vision they suffer from while inside, and once they slip back out of the monster’s maw, they’ll struggle to do anything other than… well, die.
"This hunger’s a burden, but it’s the last time, I swear. So please, forgive."
Even as early as level six, Tahm Kench can start freely roaming, using Abyssal Voyage to quite literally dive behind unsuspecting enemies. Thanks to his expansive gut, Abyssal Voyage also gives the River King the option to bring the party with him as he ults around. He can, for instance, buddy up with his nearby jungler and ult over to mid, setting up a quick three versus one scenario. Even if their target flashes to their tower, Tahm Kench can lead the tower diving incursion, using Thick Skin to absorb the tower’s shots while his allies secure the kill.
These tactics have legs around neutral objectives, too. By ulting with his own jungler, Tahm Kench can quickly reposition to baron or dragon to stall or steal the enemy team’s kill. Once they arrive, the River King’s role is to annoy his enemies with Tongue Lash while keeping Devour at hand if his allies get dangerously low. Thick Skin plays its part here, shielding Tahm Kench’s muculent form from excessive heat should he draw it. When the time comes, all he has to do is Devour the enemy jungler and lurch away from the objective - even though they can still theoretically smite inside the River King’s belly, junglers can’t ever smite the things they can’t see.
Tahm Kench becomes quite the champion connoisseur as the two teams come together, with a role that revolves around one fundamental culinary question: who does he eat? As the fight starts breaking out, he needs to carefully watch as the health bars begin dropping, smacking approaching enemy damage-dealers with Tongue Lash to slow or, if he’s been busy with his basic attacks, stun them. Positioning’s key here, too: if he situates himself in the enemy team, Tahm Kench is perfectly placed to disrupt and otherwise annoy the enemy team’s most powerful champions. Using Thick Skin’s shield to absorb damage should keep the River King ticking for long enough to fully stack An Acquired Taste, after which he can lunch. Pulling a powerful enemy out of a closely-contested fight, even for a few seconds, will often completely turn the tide, allowing Tahm Kench’s allies to take down - or mop up - the enemy team before the loquacious amphibian vomits out the final vestige of the enemy team. It’s not pretty, but it’s pretty damn effective.
Alternatively, Tahm Kench can stick to his backline and peel for his allies while aiming his ingestive instincts closer to home. Tongue Lash’s slow will buy his backline seconds against approaching killers, but if even that fails, Tahm Kench still has a trick up his sleeve… scales… whatever. See, once most marksman get caught by the enemy team, it’s curtains for them, but not with the River King on their team. By sidling up and Devouring his ailing ally, Tahm Kench can quickly reposition and deposit them somewhere safer. Immediately back in the fight - and with the enemy assassins and fighters rid of their precious gap closers - Tahm Kench and his ally should be safely squared away to wreak havoc from afar.
The bird may be the word, but teamfight initiation is the key when Swain and Tahm Kench buddy up for fights. The Master Tactician is an absolute nightmare when he gets into the heart of the enemy team, but traditionally lacks the means to actually get there. That’s where Tahm Kench comes in. By taking an Abyssal Voyage directly behind the enemy team, Swain just has to jump out, hit his buttons, and watch his enemies die.
Tahm Kench sloshes around perfectly inside a “Protect The Kog” team comp. As the enemy attacks come pouring in to take down League’s cutest void puppy, Tahm Kench can just Devour the little guy and spit him out at safe distance. Essentially, Tahm Kench has exactly the tool - or mouth - needed to cover Kog’Maw’s glaring lack of escapes.
Sejuani and Tahm Kench come into their own during the later stages of the game, particularly whenever sieges start forming. If his team’s struggling to defend a tower, the River King can take Sejuani on an Abyssal Voyage behind the enemy team, instantly flanking them and setting up an easy teamfight for Sejuani to toss a Glacial Prison into.
While Tahm Kench’s Devour makes meals out of most marksmen, Vayne’s a slippery old fish thanks to Tumble. Worse still, her silver bolts devastate high health champions like the River King, who struggles to even eat his allies when Vayne’s in the picture. She can condemn Tahm Kench away from his ally, and even if he does manage to Devour his marksman, Vayne can chase with Night Hunter before firing off her low-cooldown abilities once again.
Flanking the enemy team becomes a lot less enticing when the enemy team boasts Janna among its champions. Cast Abyssal Voyage behind the enemy team and Janna just has to cast Monsoon, turning a favourable five vs five into a tragic two vs five. Even if the remainder of Tahm Kench’s team try to engage, Janna has plenty of speed boosts, slows and knock-ups to ensure the fight stays favorable for her team.
Tahm Kench can take a beating in solo lanes, sure, but not the kind of beating that Gnar dishes out. In mini form, he has all the range, mobility, and percent health damage to boomerang down the River King from range. And once he goes mega, he still brings literal tons of damage while rocking enough health to withstand Tahm Kench’s retaliations.