Hello. I am THE RlVER KlNG. I am a 400k+ Mastery 7 Tahm Kench main. I have played him since release in every role I can make him work in. Yes, I am hardstuck Gold. However, I still want to talk about why I think these nerfs were clumsy and unfair, and why Tahm's long string of nerfs over the past few seasons have compromised his gameplay fantasy. **This is a long post, but I hope Rioters read this and communicate with Tahm Kench players about why they have decided to nerf this champion as hard as they have.**
I understand why Riot wants to nerf Tahm, even if I don't like it and think it's biased. World's is coming up and Riot does not like defensive play in professional League of Legends except for when it is Janna or Braum. Tahm Kench W (Devour) is extremely strong in coordinated play. It is one of the most powerful effects you can offer for a team on voice coms - unconditional untargetability for one target at a time means that carries can play more aggressively, because they know that Tahm can save them if they make a mistake or underestimate their burst. Tahm Kench's kit is designed to capitalize off of clutch Devours on both enemies and allies. When he was released, [Tahm Kench's Champion Insights page](https://na.leagueoflegends.com/en/news/champions-skins/champion-preview/champion-insights-tahm-kench-river-king), Rioter ZenonTheStoic noted that many Rioters in internal testing were wary of allowing Tahm to use Devour to save allies.
> _Let’s start with devouring allies. We knew we wanted the ability to work on enemies, and we were initially pretty hesitant about allowing Tahm Kench to eat his pals. That said, once we tried it out, we realized that “Tahm Kench the Armoured Personnel Carrier” was actually pretty fun. Aside from the risk of trolling, allies will quickly realize how good it feels when a decent Tahm player has their back. He can eat you over a wall, spit you over a wall, and run fast toward the enemy if you're a Tryndamere type looking for a free ride to your soon-to-be victims. As the ally, you can also decide when and where Tahm spits you, after a short lockout period. What’s more, being able to pull an ally out of a fight at will is really strong. It can save allies from abilities like Nami bubbles or Vi ults, and generally allows squishies to do Really Dumb Things and get away with it. This should enable riskier plays, particularly from the kind of high damage/low health champs that usually have to pull away from a scrap, or at least fight from the back._
Note that they really took a shine to the idea of Tahm as a tanky sort of 'carrier champion' - one that could swallow a squishy ally and back off, using Grey Health to sustain or shield damage coming his way. On release, 100% of the damage taken would be turned into Grey Health, and Tahm could heal for a portion of that after backing off. However, his shield he received from Grey Health decayed rapidly and had a much longer cooldown, around 13 seconds, more than double what it is today. This meant that when Tahm used it, he had higher moments of tankiness - higher highs, and deeper lows. You could not simply just pop E whenever you wanted - the sustain was a lot stronger back then, and sometimes you wanted to wait and see how long you could go before it really became crucial. However, Riot has since absolutely _gutted_ Thick Skin. The shield no longer decays, but Grey Health translation from Damage was cut by 30%, and the healing was not compensated. This means that Tahm had been made more squishy over time. Currently, if E is maxed to the fullest and Tahm is allowed to regenerate, a paltry 31% of damage taken will be regained. Compare this to a champion like Pyke, whose passive is better than Tahm's E in almost every way. The issue with Tahm is that he does not feel sufficiently tanky to fulfill his job of an aggro soaker. Especially in this meta, Tahm Kench has lost a signature trait that once made him fun and unique. You almost never let Grey Health decay now, because even though the shield isn't as good as it was before, the healing is infinitely times worse.
Riot also recently removed two mechanics attached to Devour - the movement speed. They took away the movement speed Tahm gains with an ally in his belly while moving away from champions, to prioritize aggressive play. Then, for some inane reason, they removed the movement speed he gains moving towards enemies, because apparently it 'sometimes procs when he's running away too and is surrounded by enemies'. I did not understand this change, suffice to say. Riot continuously punishes Tahm Kench for doing his job, when they designed him with this idea in mind - a tank that lacks initiation, AoE CC, or even reliable CC for that matter, who instead offers unique defensive utility to protect one ally and himself at a time. A quote, from the Champion Insights:
> **“But Zenon, how is that fair? I just spent all my CC on this guy, we were about to kill him, and then suddenly General Gulp comes in and whisks him away!”**
> _Well yes, imaginary FAQ person, but let me tell you about a few things I added in to help balance things a little. First of all, as I mentioned, while Tahm Kench has this pretty swell devour ability, he lacks a lot of the traditional tools that tanks usually carry around. He can’t lock down enemies at will, for instance, and he has absolutely no utility AOE tools that your average punching bag brings to a fight. Secondly, while eating an ally to keep them safe is super clutch, the ability does come with some baked in drawbacks. Its relatively short range means Tahm, who most of the time will be on a support budget and thus not the tankiest man in the game, will have to stand close to your team, or at least close to members of his team who you want to kill. So uh… you can just kill him if you focus him. Lastly, if Tahm Kench does eat his ally, the ability’s minimum duration means you’ll still have a few precious seconds to leverage your temporary numbers advantage!_
Here, Zenon lays out why Tahm Kench is allowed to have this kind of power. I am a Tahm Kench main. I will always be biased towards this champion.** I understand that it is frustrating to have your target eaten and whisked away.** I have played this champion for over three years, and believe me when I say I have been on both ends more times than I can count (one more than the other, however). I realize I will never change some people's minds, the same way I'm always going to hate, for instance, Vayne no matter what. But I can still hope others recognize why this is OK in a vacuum, and why Tahm Kench's kit makes sense from a design standpoint, and why repeatedly nerfing what he was originally designed to do in the first place is a bad idea that just drives away people who want to play him (historically, very few. Tahm Kench has almost always had some of the lowest pick rates in the entire game). Tahm Kench has Devour - a tool few other defensive characters can hope to match, besides perhaps Braum. But Tahm also lacks initiation. He cannot start fights, he cannot approach well, and his repeatedly nerfed Thick Skin makes for a poor defensive steroid on an immobile, large-modeled tank. This means he needs something else in order to be useful as a Warden. Tahm has no way to interact with you within or behind a minion wave besides auto attacks. His mana costs restrict Q spam, despite its low cooldown. When he finally DOES go on the offensive, he has one of the most telegraphed and easily kited/peeled approaches in the entire game.
But Riot does not seem to be interested in maintaining any semblance of what Tahm Kench is supposed to do. They want him to play more aggressive, but instead of granting a LOWERED CD on Devour on enemy use, they give it the same cooldown as before. - i.e. halved cooldown means nothing when the cooldown has been doubled. **This means that after this patch, Devour is the same or drastically worse in every situation he uses it. **They even shaved off .5 seconds of his slow for some reason, and scrapped the increased damage on enemy Devour. Hiding these straight nerfs at the bottom of the 'tank buffs' section of the notes was cowardly and wrong.
**What exactly is Tahm Kench supposed to do in lane anymore?** All meta bot laners and supports have ways of easily stopping Tahm Kench's approach. Whereas before, he could go even or defeat aggro engage/hook supports by judiciously using Devour only when absolutely necessary, now Tahm has to wait 30 seconds before he can do anything at all in lane. For 30 seconds at a time, Tahm Kench will have one ability during the laning phase, should he or his carry be engaged upon. Thresh hook, Blitz hook, Leona E, Rakan W, Nautilus hook, Morgana Bind, Alistar W, Nami Bubble, Taric E.......all of these abilities have drastically lower cooldowns than Devour, and that's just looking at the supports, not even counting bot lane carry threats. By choosing to save an ally from one, Tahm Kench now has nothing, nothing at all to respond with when they do it two more times, possibly earning a kill. And it's not like he just simply can't use ALLIED Devour again afterwards. By eating an ally, Tahm is locked out of fighting any enemy at all for the next 30 seconds. If you thought it was frustrating when Tahm Devoured your CC target, I hope you can have fun now killing them while he Q's you and runs away dejectedly. It's depressing.
Tahm Kench passed under the radar with low win rates and even lower pick rates for like the past 3 years. He got picked in pro play when pick comps were strong - for example, when Malzahar after the mage update was meta - but it's only recently in Season 8 when he started to become a priority. You want to know the reason why he's so desired now? This shitfest of a meta, pardon my French. Tahm Kench is literally one of the only tools pro players (and us normal players too, for that matter) have to try and counter the absurd amount of damage we have in the game right now. Shields, resistances, even damage reduction pale before simply removing someone from the game before they get _removed from the game_ by a Quinn or Talon or Wukong or Leblanc. **Tahm Kench is a beast from the meta YOU created Riot, and nerfing him, instead of the things he is good at countering, will only push him out completely.** When damage is lower, other picks like enchanters and such can come back in. Scarra said in his big state of the game video that the biggest problem in the game right now is that 1 pick equals death; the example he used is that when he plays Kindred, 99% of the time he has to instantly pop ult if he gets jumped on or CCed. That's true for the rest of the roster, and the tools Tahm Kench can offer to a coordinated team in a meta where the smallest mistake equals death are unparalleled. **Does that mean he is too strong? Technically, yeah. But by removing his ability to counter this meta, you are also removing his ability to function in it. **I probably wouldn't be as mad about these nerfs if champions like Blitzcrank, Alistar, and Rakan weren't all sitting comfortably at the top with large win AND pick rates - the exact sort of champions that are now going to absolutely destroy Tahm and his lane partner because Devour, for some reason, needs to have a 30 second cooldown.
I have zero hopes Riot will read this, and if they do, that they will work with Tahm mains on suitable compensation. Everything I have learned when it comes to Riot's stance on Tahm Kench (2.5 years since last skin!) has led me to be cynical and resigned. I could say I understand what its like to be a Ryze or Azir or Kalista main, but it's a lot different than that. When carries get nerfed for being too efffective in pro play, you can still function on them. They still deal damage, they can still carry, they still have uses. When tanks or supports are nerfed - especially when their durability and utility, the only things they realistically offer- they don't have damage to fall back on. This is why Ornn, Galio, Tahm, Zac, etc. all feel like such shit to play as right now, because they have to secure such an overwhelming lead to be successful, and that process is a much more uphill battle than other champions and causes you to wonder if its even worth it.