Of all the champions expected to show up at Worlds 2021, Yuumi was pretty far down the list. She hadn’t been picked or banned at all throughout play-ins, and, aside from Nami, we saw almost exclusively hard-engage support champions. The support meta looked pretty much exactly the same as it has all year: all tanks, all the time.
Then, in the very first game of the Group Stage, this happened:
Yuumi was first-picked seemingly out of nowhere, and immediately thrust into high priority for the rest of Worlds, by DWG KIA support Cho "BeryL" Geon-hee no less, a support known for playing champions like Rell and Leona. Yuumi’s value was made apparent immediately, and she’s been first pick first ban ever since her initial showing.
The overall response has been mixed, and, going by Yuumi’s quick introduction into the meta, pros have had this brewing in scrims for a while. What makes Yuumi worth first picking, and how are pros trying to find counterplay?
Win lane, win game
The obvious weakness for Yuumi is that you’re missing a frontline presence. She’s got good sustain, but putting her with an ADC puts a lot of stake on whether or not your carry lives through the early game. However, in a meta where champs like Miss Fortune, Jhin, and Ezreal are high priority, Yuumi looks great.
Early game pressure and the ability to farm from a distance are what teams value in ADCs at Worlds, and both of those things give Yuumi a direct route out of the early game and into late game teamfights. That said, her lane phase isn’t as weak as many perceive it to be.
Even for a relatively weak bot lane like that of C9, Yuumi has been a massive boon in the games she’s gotten through the draft. Her shielding, healing, and movement speed is incredibly potent at every stage of the game. Yuumi’s a champion with a pretty safe early game and an incredible late-game payoff. There aren’t many downsides to picking her.
Taking down a Yuumi bot lane early game is a hard task due to her sustain and ability to hide in another player, but a few teams have tried drafting in a way that directly counters the champion. In an enlightening interview with PSG Talon mid laner Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang, Inven Global got to ask about the team's win over Hanwha Life Esports in Day 2 of the group stage. PSG first-picked Yuumi this game with a plan.
“We picked Yuumi and tried to play a Yuumi system, basically: if your bot lane is able to farm up and develop, then you become very strong in the late game," Maple explained after the win.
Maple’s explanation matches up with Yuumi’s high priority. Teams are picking her regardless of what the enemy wants to draft, and, seeing as PSG Talon won against the Draven/Pyke duo, things worked out in their favor. However, the early game wasn’t exactly smooth.
HLE did manage to find early kills on the duo lane of PSG. An extremely favorable trade followed by a well-executed dive from Willer gave HLE’s bot lane an early leg up. Although, it seems PSG expected to face this bot lane and to have a hard time against it. According to Maple, HLE's bot lane duo are known on the ranked ladder for their Pyke and Draven, respectively. Pulling out an all-in early game strat against a support with seemingly few counters makes sense.
However, things didn’t work out for HLE here despite their early playmaking. Deft and Vsta never managed to build anything off of their early lead, and PSG hit the mid-late game with their Yuumi System in full effect.
The thing about Yuumi with PSG’s comp here is that she has so many people to jump to that can get her where she needs to go. Leblanc, Talon, and Gwen are all fairly mobile champions, and, with PSG being this far ahead, all Kaiwing had to do was stick to Gwen and get a good Final Chapter off to keep HLE from getting into the Baron pit.Maple’s onto something with the so-called “Yuumi System”, and it seems other teams are employing these strategies when they draft Yuumi.
Low effort, big payoff
What may be the biggest reason we’ve seen Yuumi go from being irrelevant to dominating the meta is her low barrier of entry. The things that make her strong also make her easy, and this is a large part of why Yuumi is generally hated by the community. Where other enchanter supports have to worry about positioning and being locked down by meta favored CC-heavy frontliners, Yuumi gets to disappear and buff her team without being targetable.
Team Liquid support Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in put it best when we interviewed him after TL's win over MAD Lions. When asked where he’d place Yuumi in the meta, he said this: “I think Yuumi is OP. When Yuumi makes decent plays, the opponent has to make great plays against her.”
It’s possible to defeat Yuumi, and there are great plays to be made against teams that run this champion (thus why NA and EU teams have lost with the pick), but, in general, she feels horrible to play against. If there was something Yuumi players were doing to stand out from the rest, it may feel a little better. Instead, every person that plays Yuumi feels like they’re playing in the same way.
The hatred for Yuumi runs deep, and there’s a clear and distinct reason for it. Any meta change that lowers the skill ceiling and skill floor so drastically is bound to be loathed by pros and the general playerbase alike.
The fact that SK Gaming support Erik "Treatz" Wessén got such a big push behind a tweet hating on Yuumi shows the general disdain that people have for this champion. The pros seem to be done with her as well, seeing as Yuumi’s ban rate has quickly shot to 100% on Day 3 of the group stage.
We’re fortunate that solving the problem of Yuumi is as easy as banning her out, but we may end up seeing her in the several BO5 sets coming up as Worlds continues depending on how teams adapt their drafts. Yuumi’s rise to prominence was an unexpected one, but it seems that most are in agreement that the Yuumi meta isn’t a fun one to watch or play against.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.