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A deeper look at Tahm Kench’s reworked abilities – What changed?

The River King’s rework are now live on the PBE, with an official release fast approaching.

Back in June of 2020, gameplay designer Mark Yetter announced that Tahm Kench was poised for a ‘mini-rework.’ The River King has been a mainstay in the bottom lane since 2015. The champion admittedly has a massive skill divide due to the high degree of coordination his kit requires. Consequently, while Tahm Kench is a viable pick in professional play, he suffers in solo queue where teams are simply incapable of achieving the same level of synergy.

The developer diary pointed out the disparity between pro-play and solo queue. Yetter cited the champions prevalence in the professional scene worldwide, yet his near constant sub-50% win rate in ranked. Due to this, the rework was intent on making Tahm Kench a better pick for casual players. Riot toyed with the idea of reshuffling Tahm Kench’s kit and doing away with his semi-global ultimate. These changes were vaguely outlined a year ago, but postponed as not to upset the meta going into Worlds.

A year later, we have learned that Riot had not forgotten about the River King. Released on the PBE earlier this week, players can now see the specifics behind Tahm Kench’s mini rework and try the champion out for themselves before he hits live servers.

Tahm Kench’s new kit

Starting with his passive, not much has changed. An Acquired Taste still gives a three hit stack onto enemy champions. Instead of proccing the devour ability however, it simply empowers the new ultimate and Tongue Lash abilities. This shows that while some radical changes were made to the support, the core of his kit remains the same.

Q (Tongue Lash) remains the same. Along with dealing damage, the on-hit effect of this ability provides a 40% slow. As previously stated, with three Acquired Taste stacks, Tongue Lash becomes empowered and can be used to devour enemies from a distance.

W (Abyssal Dive) is perhaps the most significant change to Tahm Kench’s kit through this rework. The philosophy behind this ability was to retain the core element of his past ultimate while giving a more updated engage ability. The new ability allows Tahm to dive and repear at a given location, knocking up enemies within range. Similar to Abyssal Voyage, a devoured ally can be taken along.

Tahm’s E (Thick Skin) has remained nearly untouched. This ability still ‘heals’ Tahm Kench with a select percentage of the damage he has taken. This still enables Tahm to fill the quasi-tank role he is known to take.

Tahm’s new ultimate, R (Devour) shuffles around the former W ability. The ability still requires three stacks of Acquired Taste to devour an enemy champion, dealing magic damage and taking a percentage of enemies’ max health. Devouring an ally not only protects them from immediate damage but also provides a shield. Either way, Tahm is slowed, but can still cast Abyssal Dive.

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Image Credit: Riot Games
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