How To Play Tahm Kench In League Of Legends

Ever since Tahm Kench was reworked in Patch 11.13 he has been on a roll; being one of the most powerful top laners in the game. Here’s how you can get started playing the River King.


When Tahm Kench was first released, he was meant to be a Support but some players manage to fit him into other roles like Top or Jungle. But since his new rework, Tahm Kench became an absolute beast in the Top Lane. This new version of Tahm Kench had better scaling, better sustain, and just an overall better champion. 

Champion Abilities

Tahm Kench’s abilities are geared towards making him incredibly bulky while also increasing his damage. His reworked kit makes him less viable as a Support and more viable as a tanky frontliner who can be a complimentary damage dealer for his team.

Passive – An Acquired Taste

Basic attacks and Tongue Lash deal bonus magic damage. Against champions, they add a stack of An Acquired Taste, up to 3. At 3 stacks, Tongue Lash and Devour become empowered against that champion.

This is one of the biggest reasons why Tahm Kench is now viable as a Top Laner. It gives him a lot of damage to work with and increases his DPS. The extra damage from this passive can’t be felt until later on in the game. Make sure to pay attention to this passive as syncing it with Tahm Kench’s other abilities is the key to success.

Q – Tongue Lash

Damages the first enemy hit with magic damage and slows them by 40% for 2 seconds. Tongue Lash will also heal Tahm Kench if an enemy champion is hit. Champions with 3 stacks of An Acquired Taste will additionally be stunned for 2 seconds. Activate Devour while your tongue is in midair to devour monsters/minions from a distance.

This is Tahm Kench’s primary offensive ability. It has great damage and also increases his sustain. It’s a great ability for dueling enemies since it has a stun and a heal. It has a pretty long range too so you can use it to poke down your enemies. 

W – Abyssal Dive

Begin to channel for up to 1.35 seconds before Tahm Kench dives to the target location. Upon emerging, Tahm Kench deals magic damage to enemies, knocks them up, and stuns them for 1 second. Hitting at least one enemy champion refunds 40% of cooldown and mana cost. Enemies can see where Tahm Kench will arrive after 0.75 seconds, and he gains sight of the area.

Tahm Kench’s reworked W ability is very versatile. It’s both a gap closer and a hard form of crowd control. When used correctly, it can catch a lot of people off guard. This ability opens up tons of opportunities for roaming and ganking that it can change the tides of team fights. 

E – Thick Skin

Passive: Damage taken while this ability is inactive is converted to gray health, up to a max of [+300% max]. If allowed to decay, some of it is regenerated as health, increased to [+10% max] per 0.264 seconds.

Active: Convert all of your gray health into a shield that lasts 2.5 seconds.

Thick Skin makes Tahm Kench absurdly tanky. It also gives him incredible sustain that helps him stay in lane longer than his opponent. If you time it right, Thick Skin’s active can act like a second health bar. It’s pretty handy when diving opponents or being ganked in an all in.

R – Devour

Tahm Kench devours a champion for a few seconds. He can re-cast to spit them out. 

On Enemy Champions: Require 3 stacks of An Acquired Taste. Enemy champions are devoured for up to 3 seconds and take magic damage. Tahm Kench is slowed by 40% and grounded when he has devoured an enemy champion.

On Ally Champions: Allies are devoured for up to 3 seconds and are granted a shield for up to 2.5 seconds after being spit out. Allies can also choose to exit early. Tahm Kench is slowed and grounded when he has devoured an ally but can cast Abyssal Dive.

This used to be Tahm Kench’s W ability until the rework. Devour has a ton of uses so you can be creative when using it. When cast on an ally, it can be great for escaping or setting up a gank when used in conjunction with Abyssal Dive. When used on an enemy, it can be a great way to single out priority targets like the enemy team’s carries. 

Runes and Item Builds

Since Tahm Kench is primarily used as a Tank in the Top Lane, your primary focus when building items on him is to increase his durability, survivability, and resistances. 

Starting Items

For starting items, the best choice would be a Corrupting Potion. In the early game, Tahm Kench can be a bit mana hungry and susceptible to aggressive opponents. Having Corrupting Potion can help you stay in lane a bit longer and hold your own even against enemies who can counter you. Doran’s Shield is also a good start especially when you’re against a ranged champion that can poke or harass you from afar.

Mythic Items

For Mythic Items, Tahm Kench benefits from two of the most used tank Mythics. These are Frostfire Gauntlet and Sunfire Aegis. Whichever you choose can mostly boil down to preference as both of these items are really good on Tahm Kench. If you prefer to duel and are up against a mobile champion, you can go with Frostfire Gauntlet. The slow it gives on your enhanced auto attack after using an ability can be a good way to help you stick to your opponents. If you just want to be the tankiest tank you can be, go for Sunfire Aegis.

Full Build

When playing as Tahm Kench, you don’t typically rush your Mythic item. Instead, you slowly work towards it as you hit your power spikes. The first item you should buy when you can are tier 2 boots. In this case, it would be Plated Steelcaps. Next, go for Bami’s Cinder and Bramble Vest. The combination of these three items is enough to get you by until the mid game. Work towards completing Frostfire Gauntlet and Thornmail next. After you’ve completed your core items, go for Spirit Visage for magic resist and to increase your passive health regeneration. Anathema’s Chains is a good follow up item since it can increase your durability and allows you to reduce an enemy champion’s damage on you by 30%. Finish off your build with a Randuin’s Omen for the tank stats, the damage reduction, and the slow to help you stick better to your targets.

Other Viable Items

Most tank items are good on Tahm Kench depending on the situation. Abyssal Mask can be an excellent pick up since it gives you health, magic resist, and lets you deal more damage to immobilized targets. Gargoyle Stoneplate is a fantastic item on Tahm Kench because it synergizes well with Thick Skin. When you time it right, your health plus the shield from Thick Skin plus the shield from Stoneplate can make it seem like you have three health bars. Warmog’s Armor is a pretty good item too as it gives you a lot of raw health and amazing health regeneration. If you need more armor, Dead Man’s Plate can be a great alternative to some of your items since it gives you armor, health, and a bit of additional damage.


For runes, you run Tahm Kench like a typical Tank in the Top Lane. For your primaries, go with the Resolve tree and take Grasp of the Undying as your key stone. This will give you additional sustain in the early game and will help you scale better in the late game. Next, take Shield Bash. Since you’ll have a ton of shields, this can work heavily in your favor. Next, take Second Wind to help you sustain in lane. Lastly, take Unflinching because you’ll want to stick to your targets as long as you can to be effective. For secondaries, take Triumph for the bonus sustain, and Legend: Alacrity for additional attack speed. For rune shards, take Attack Speed and double Armor.

Useful Tips

  1. Timing Thick Skin perfectly can lead to some amazing outplay potentials. Most players will underestimate the strength of your shield and your heal. 
  2. Tahm Kench is strong against most meta Top Laners like Malphite, Kayle, and Wukong. However, he can be hard countered by niche champions like Yorick and Volibear. Try to ban these champions whenever you can.
  3. For summoner spells, always take Flash and Teleport. This will give you a global presence that can be helpful especially when split pushing or contesting objectives. 

So there you have it! That’s all you need to know about playing Tahm Kench in League of Legends. Be sure to check back with us again for more awesome guides on your favorite games. Have fun and we’ll see you on the Rift!