The Shadow Isles have always been a bit of a bummer. Once known as the Blessed Isle, the Shadow Isles used to be a shimmering example of the natural and exotic beauty that Runeterra possessed. After Hecacrim maliciously killed the island nation's guardians, as well as his then military cohort, Kalista, a curse fell over the place, damning everyone who touched its soil.
Alas, poor Yorick was minding his own business, honing his ability to chat with unsent spirits of the dead in a convent of monks on the island, when the curse took him and his brethren. Now, he's the only one that remains, and he stays true to his singular calling - guiding the souls of the dead to the beyond.
A righteous return from great and nebulous undeath suits Yorick in-game. There are few champions in the game that are completely and utterly useless in the current climate of the game, and then there is Yorick, who has never seemed to be viable. In lane, he was incredibly difficult to play against, which made opponents unhappy. In teamfights, he was a consistent under-performer, which made Yorick players and his team pretty sad. Years of buffs and nerfs couldn't get him right, and eventually even Riot stopped trying, defaulting to the inevitability of Yorick being completely redone at some point. About three years after the first rumors of his rework surfaced, he finally appeared, and he's better than one could ever imagine Yorick could be.
A potent and tanky solo laner, Yorick draws strength from the dead. He can summon ghoulish creatures to assist him in his lane, doing whatever needs to be done to secure victory. Lane pressure and potent dueling is his new MO, and his split pushing potential is some of the best in the game.
Yorick's passive is Shepherd of Souls, which works intimately with his Q, Last Rites/Awakening. Let's tackle them at the same time.
Last Rites super powers the gravedigger's next attack. When it strikes, it does bonus physical damage and heals Yorick. The heal is doubled when he is below half health, and activating the attack resets his animations. When this attack kills a minion, it has a chance to create a grave. When it kills a champion, it will always create one. Every 12th creature to die in his presence will always leave a grave. After three graves are made, and after Last Rites is cast again, it turns into Awakening. Awakening will turn graves into Mist Walkers.
Here's where Shepard comes in. Mist Walkers are little mobs that act autonomously, attacking anything near them. They get stronger as Yorick does, gaining a percentage of his health and AD, and he can't have more than four of them in an area. These little flesh rippers are surprisingly speedy and are very good at pushing lanes. They will die when not close enough to him, though.
Last Rites will feel a lot like Siphoning Strike for you Nasus players out there. It should be maxed first, as the AD scaling on the ability is strong and it's going to be your main source of dueling damage and sustain. Whenever a champion gets too close, don't be afraid to bash them with it. Also, keep a good eye on your grave count, last hitting minions with the Q if necessary. It's always worth pushing back your dive or engage plans to add another grave or two.
His W, Dark Procession, summons a ring of twisted deadlings to trap your opponent into a compromisingly tight space. While enemies can't move through the wall, they can break it down. It starts at two life, and gradually gains a point after a few levels. Until it's broken, it most resembles Jarvan IV's Cataclysm in size and its "rat-in-a-cage" factor. Allies can move through it freely, though.
The range is small, and it's easy to break at low levels, but Dark Procession can transform into quite the CC nightmare eventually. If ganks are imminent, drop one of these bad boys down to secure the kill right before jungler impact or right as you see someone peaking out of the river bush. Remember, you don't necessarily have to trap someone inside the swirl for it to block access to you or your fellow summoners. If you do trap someone though, they'll be in a prime Mist Walker feeding frenzy territory. "But if Walkers do their own thing, how can I make them attack trapped opponents on command?" Good question!
His E ability, Mourning Mist, launches a writhing ball of bad intentions at the foe, which splash in an elongated pattern, almost like a skill shot. When it hits the enemy, besides doing damage based on 15% of the opponent's current health, it slows them by 50% and marks them. When marked, all active Mist Walkers make that enemy their target, and they will literally leap to them. Yorick himself gains a movement speed buff when closing in on the marked target. Aside from another way to damage people, these latter aspects are the main draw here.
The slowing effect, in tandem with the move speed buff and the Walker trigger, is how you're going to close against squishier and more mobile enemies. The lane pressure from a full cast of Walkers will be significant when just farming minions, but when they suddenly turn and burst on an unsuspecting laner with extreme prejudice, they will suddenly be bombarded with a lot of questions that they will quickly run out of answers for. The Mist/Dark Procession relationship is vital in all stages of the game, and you can very quickly become the bane of the back line's existence.
The newest contender for coolest ultimate ability in the game has to go to this new Yorick's Eulogy of the Mists. When activated, he summons the Maiden of the Mists, and with her several Mist Walkers. She is essentially a big, ethereal Mist Walker that follows Yorick around. That is, until she finds minions to push. With her immense health and her host of minions, she will push waves autonomously until finally killed.
This is important for a couple of reasons. One, when pushing a lane, she no longer follows Yorick around. He's free to do whatever he wants, like push other lanes. While active, the Maiden will spawn her own Walkers from graves that spawn, so she will refresh her own ranks. And she has no timer, meaning she's dead only when someone kills her. The split push potential is real.
But never forgo the sort of work they can accomplish together. When she's attacking someone with her drain beam, a la Fiddlesticks, all of Yorick's basic attacks will do 5% of the targets max health as bonus magic damage (on a short cooldown). One more heavy dueling tool for the pile.
Old Yorick used to be an immovable object in lane that was incredibly difficult to counter play against, with extreme downside of being near useless by mid game. New Yorick maintains some of that signature stoicism during the early game, and he remains a tough and bursty juggernaut long after Elder Dragon spawns.
Though he has enough raw stats and tools to duel himself, taking full advantage of Yorick's uniquely brilliant lane pressure requires you to carefully curate your graves. The more graves being created under your feet, the more dangerous you become. Like Zyra, every passive element you add to the map makes you that much more powerful. Unlike Zyra, no one can remove Yorick's graves but himself. The only thing you risk when deciding to Last Rites or not is positioning and the couple seconds of uncertainty between cooldowns. The time/mana investment to make graves in relation to how much more effective a Mist Walker makes you is always worth it.
When in lane, I've found that it's rarely worth raising anything less than four Mist Walkers, if your can help it. Not only does it provide and extra source of auto attack damage on minions and champions, but it's another thing a turret or an enemy has to deal with that isn't Yorick. That part can't be emphasized enough, when you make Mist Walkers, that's something that an enemy HAS to deal with, because they won't die on their own. If they're smart, they will kill the super squishy Walkers immediately, but that means that the autos/ability that they use to sweep the bodies away is an attack not used on Yorick, which is never a bad thing.
Last Rites gives Yorick some reliable poke potential, but the range is non-existent. Don't hesitate to drop a Dark Procession on your way into a trade, even if you don't plan to stay and duke it out until the bitter end. Spending the extra time to lock an opponent in place to guarantee the Last Rites damage/heal is a worth while gesture. Dark Procession is also good for denying cannon minions and cutting off jungling gankers. You don't have to get them inside the circle, you just have to put it between them. When attempting to escape, dropping a Dark Procession in front of you is a good way to make sure it becomes a barrier, as you and your allies can pass through it and pursuers can't. Keep in mind that any champion who can dash over walls or blink through obstacles can also do that to your wall of twisted bodies.
Especially in early scenarios, you shouldn't dive without Mist Walkers present and your target being marked by Mourning Mist. The slow effect applies in tandem with the speed buff Yorick gets, and the leaping engage of the Mist Walkers is crucial to breaking though a lot of health early. Once you're in Last Rites range, keep the prey trapped with a Dark Procession. All of Yorick's abilities synergize so well for the task of quick and painful beat downs, so you never really want to engage without the ability to use all of them. At Level 6, The Maiden becomes an integral part of your assault. Not only does she bring her own Walkers with her (in case you don't have any around), but she amplifies your damage to the poor unfortunate soul in your shared grasps. When in Last Rites range, pop her immediately to maximize the output of your exchange. Should you kill the target, she can stick around and push the lane for you while you go back to base or some other lane.
Mid/Late game, Yorick is well equipped for split pushing thanks to his ult. Summon Walkers and the Maiden, and let them hit a lonely outer turret while you join the teamfights in mid lane. Either someone will have to break off to deal with it, or the fate of their turret is left to the AI of minions. Which would you trust? As Yorick isn't really an initiator, he shouldn't linger too close to the front of the pack. He should be the second stage of an assault, after Shyvanna dives or Thresh pulls a foe in. A quick Dark Procession can render that poor target as good as dead. Mourning Mist can be used as a ranged poke in the stand offs as people get into position, as the slow effect will make an opponent easier to grab. Try not to just splash it around if you have Walkers in lane, though, as you'll watch them get deleted with ease under the weight of five swirling champions.
Yorick is a loner naturally, but he definitely benefits from the added presence of hard CC. Thresh, Veigar, and Ahri are good examples of champions who help Yorick make the most out of the Mourning Mist/Awakening combo. Champions who aren't afraid of walls like Fiora, Diana, or Gragas will absolutely give the slow and steady Yorick some trouble, as they can naturally bypass his only real CC option in Dark Procession.
Even though he is very different and has some features unique to that lane, building Yorick will look a lot like every Juggernaut spec in that position.
THE top lane Juggernaut item is Black Cleaver, and it's a solid first build for the Shepherd of Lost Souls. The AD is nice, the Rage passive helps him keep up when running down opponents, and health is never a bad thing for melee champions. I'm not sure he will take advantage of the Cleave passive in the ways that faster auto attackers do, but extra features are never bad.
If you decide to take Exhaust in the top lane, you may want to consider something like a Trinity Force. There are very few melee champions that can't benefit from what TF provides, and the Sheen damage is especially useful for him considering how much he relies on quick skills. You'll miss the move speed bonus of Rage, but Exhaust can bring champions to the grinding halt needed to close the gap and secure the kill that you will undoubtedly deliver with this weapon.
If you want to make the most out of Yorick's split pushing potential, Investing in a Hydra will provide the wave clear that he lacks. No matter what defensive options you're considering, Titanic should compliment them nicely. The extra health can help you wade through the minion aggro without much fear, saving your Walkers for when they're really needed. Ravenous will give you that extra umph in combat when the enemy comes to stop you, though.
Dead Man's Plate is the Juggernaut auto pick for armor 90% of the time. Dreadnought will help his roaming potential greatly, and the armor provided allows him the freedom to trade with other melees without much fear. The Momentum discharge damage also synergizes well with the Sheen proc of TF.
If you want to double down on split push enhancement, the Sunfire Cape is your choice. Great health, great armor, and the steady AOE damage to everyone around you makes this perfect for clearing waves alone or with your recently-deceased homies.
Other crazy item choices have included AP builds focused around getting the most bang out of Mourning Mist, with Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Rabadon's Death Cap taking center stage. Some folks even consider Duskblade of Draktharr/Youmuu's Ghostblade combos to maximize that one-hit-kill potential. Seems silly to build a slow hulk as if he was Zed, but who am I to judge?
Hopefully, these tips help make your walk among the tombstones a rewarding experience. Let us know how it's working for you on Twitter and Facebook. Also: drop into the Leaguepedia and stay up to date with everything you need to know about the game.
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.