Champion Reveal: Tahm Kench, the River King

Tahm Kench Tahm Kench is a tough solo lane or support tank with a An Acquired Taste.png taste for... well, pretty much everything. He'll happily Devour.png munch down on an enemy champion once he's An Acquired Taste.png slathered them up, stowing them in his sizeable belly - and out of a fight - while the River King's allies leverage their advantage. But Tahm Kench's stomach isn't reserved solely for his enemies: after Abyssal Voyage.png swallowing an ally, the tanky fish-man can Abyssal Voyage 2.png dive into one of his signature whirlpools before throwing himself towards the enemy team. [2]

Abilities

An Acquired Taste
An Acquired Taste

Tahm Kench applies a stack of An Acquired Taste to all enemy champions he hits with basic attacks or damaging abilities. Once he's applied three stacks, he can interact with them... differently.


Tongue Lash
Tongue Lash

Tahm Kench Root icon roots himself briefly while launching his tongue in a target direction. Tongue Lash stops once it hits a target, damaging and Slow icon slowing whatever he hits. If Tahm Kench slathers an enemy champion with three stacks of An Acquired Taste.png An Acquired Taste then hits them with Tongue Lash, he Stun icon stuns them instead.


Devour
Devour

Tahm Kench briefly swallows a nearby targeted unit. Enemies suffer a portion of their max health as magic damage. In addition:

  • Minions and monsters: Once Tahm Kench Devours an enemy minion or monster, he can Regurgitate.png reactivate the ability to spit them out in a target direction. They deal damage to whoever they hit.
  • Allied Champions: When Tahm Kench devours an allied champion, he renders his ally immune from damage and gains extra movement speed when he heads toward enemy champions. Both Tahm Kench and his edible ally can choose when the latter leaves.
  • Enemy Champions: Tahm Kench can only Devour enemy champions once he's applied three stacks of An Acquired Taste.png An Acquired Taste to them. His movement speed is drastically reduced while enemy champs - who suffer Nearsight icon greatly reduced vision and can only see things immediately around the River King - are in his belly.


Thick Skin
Thick Skin
  • Passive: All damage Tahm Kench takes is turned into grey health. Once he leaves combat, the grey health falls off, healing him for a portion of the amount of grey health he's earned.
  • Active: Tahm Kench converts his grey health into a shield that quickly falls off.


Abyssal Voyage
Abyssal Voyage
  • Passive: All of Tahm Kench's damage scales with his maximum health.
  • Active: Tahm Kench opens his maw, offering an ally a spot inside his belly. Once they jump in, or once Tahm Kench decides he's diving solo, he starts channeling, conjuring a whirlpool beneath him before Abyssal Voyage 2.png diving in, reappearing a few seconds later at his target location. Abyssal Voyage has a huge range, but the ability is pretty well telegraphed by its lengthy cast.


Tahm Kench Screenshots
Support

Tahm Kench makes for a fine support thanks to his unrivaled ability to Devour.png save his marksman from otherwise impending death. Once he's wobbled into lane, his main role is to stick with his lane buddy, making sure they're safe and able to farm at will. If the enemy manages to slow or stun his ally, Tahm Kench simply Devour.png Devours them before heading to safety. The effect lasts longer than most crowd control abilities, so even if the enemy team manages to land a perfect catch on the River King's marksman, Tahm Kench effectively cleanses it before repositioning somewhere safer. What's more, should he end up on the receiving end of enemy attacks as he waddles away, Thick Skin.png Thick Skin's passive offers the River King plenty of regenerative support. Finally, even if the enemy team commits to trading in lane, Tahm Kench can turn his attention to the enemy damage dealer, slathering them up with his An Acquired Taste.png passive before Devour.png Devouring them to create a super powerful - albeit temporary - two vs one scenario.

His versatility really shines in ganks, too. Aside from offering his ally the same unmatched protection during enemy ganks, he can get pretty mouthy in allied ganks, too. Meandering out of lane under the pretense of warding, Tahm Kench can meet up with his jungler before using Abyssal Voyage.png Abyssal Voyage to set up a gank.

Solo Lane

Tahm Kench is tanky enough to take a Tongue Lash.png licking as well as give one, so he's best positioned amongst his minions when he heads to a solo lane. From there the River King's free to last hit and trade with his opponent as he sees fit. The thing to remember with Tahm Kench is that even when he goes even in trades, he wins thanks to Thick Skin.png Thick Skin's passive, which regenerates enough of the River King's health to make otherwise questionable trades more palatable. If it looks like the enemy's trying to all-in him, Tahm Kench can Devour.png Devour his enemy for a burst of damage and some uninhibited healing, or, if he hasn't applied enough stacks of his An Acquired Taste.png passive, activate Thick Skin.png Thick Skin for a life-saving shield.

But how does the velvet-voiced monstrosity actually fight? Well, most of his early poke and harass comes from Tongue Lash.png Tongue Lash. Fishing for direct hits on enemy champions, or better still, pulling off the stun, should give Tahm Kench the edge in most of his tank battles. But once he's fully applied An Acquired Taste.png An Acquired Taste to his snakebit target, he has far more tricks to show them than a measly stun. Devour.png Devour is a deeply versatile ability that gives the River King options aplenty, even during the early stages of the game. He can Devour.png munch down on his lane opponent as they push up to the tower, then, with clever timing, Regurgitate.png spit them out behind his tower just as it obliterates the last of the minions. Better still, Tahm Kench can Devour.png Devour his enemy as his jungler comes in for a gank. His hapless victim won't see their approaching death thanks to the greatly reduced vision they suffer from while inside, and once they Regurgitate.png slip back out of the monster's maw, they'll struggle to do anything other than... well, die.

Skirmishing

Even as early as level six, Tahm Kench can start freely roaming, using Abyssal Voyage.png Abyssal Voyage to quite literally Abyssal Voyage 2.png dive behind unsuspecting enemies. Thanks to his expansive gut, Abyssal Voyage.png Abyssal Voyage also gives the River King the option to bring the party with him as he Abyssal Voyage.png ults around. He can, for instance, buddy up with his nearby jungler and Abyssal Voyage.png ult over to mid, setting up a quick three versus one scenario. Even if their target Flash.png flashes to their tower, Tahm Kench can lead the tower diving incursion, using Thick Skin.png Thick Skin to absorb the tower's shots while his allies secure the kill.

These tactics have legs around neutral objectives, too. By Abyssal Voyage.png ulting with his own jungler, Tahm Kench can quickly reposition to Baron Nashor Baron or Dragon Dragon to stall or steal the enemy team's kill. Once they arrive, the River King's role is to annoy his enemies with Tongue Lash.png Tongue Lash while keeping Devour.png Devour at hand if his allies get dangerously low. Thick Skin.png Thick Skin plays its part here, shielding Tahm Kench's muculent form from excessive heat should he draw it. When the time comes, all he has to do is Devour.png Devour the enemy jungler and lurch away from the objective - even though they can still theoretically Smite.png Smite inside the River King's belly, junglers can't ever Smite.png Smite the things they can't see.

Teamfights

Tahm Kench becomes quite the champion connoisseur as the two teams come together, with a role that revolves around one fundamental culinary question: who does he Devour.png eat? As the fight starts breaking out, he needs to carefully watch as the health bars begin dropping, smacking approaching enemy damage-dealers with Tongue Lash.png Tongue Lash to slow or, if he's been busy with his An Acquired Taste.png basic attacks, stun them. Positioning's key here, too: if he situates himself in the enemy team, Tahm Kench is perfectly placed to disrupt and otherwise annoy the enemy team's most powerful champions. Using Thick Skin.png Thick Skin's shield to absorb damage should keep the River King ticking for long enough to fully stack An Acquired Taste.png An Acquired Taste, after which he can Devour.png lunch. Pulling a powerful enemy out of a closely-contested fight, even for a few seconds, will often completely turn the tide, allowing Tahm Kench's allies to take down - or mop up - the enemy team before the loquacious amphibian Regurgitate.png vomits out the final vestige of the enemy team. It's not pretty, but it's pretty damn effective.

Alternatively, Tahm Kench can stick to his backline and peel for his allies while aiming his Devour.png ingestive instincts closer to home. Tongue Lash.png Tongue Lash's slow will buy his backline seconds against approaching killers, but if even that fails, Tahm Kench still has a trick up his sleeve... scales... whatever. See, once most marksman get caught by the enemy team, it's curtains for them, but not with the River King on their team. By sidling up and Devour.png Devouring his ailing ally, Tahm Kench can quickly reposition and Regurgitate.png deposit them somewhere safer. Immediately back in the fight - and with the enemy assassins and fighters rid of their precious gap closers - Tahm Kench and his ally should be safely squared away to wreak havoc from afar.

Synergy
Works well with: Struggles against:
SwainSquare
Swain - the Master Tactician

The bird may be the word, but teamfight initiation is the key when Swain and Tahm Kench buddy up for fights. The Master Tactician is an absolute nightmare when he gets into the heart of the enemy team, but traditionally lacks the means to actually get there. That's where Tahm Kench comes in. By taking an Abyssal Voyage.png Abyssal Voyage directly behind the enemy team, Swain just has to jump out, hit his buttons, and watch his enemies die.

VayneSquare
Vayne - the Night Hunter

While Tahm Kench's Devour.png Devour makes meals out of most marksmen, Vayne's a slippery old fish thanks to Tumble.png Tumble. Worse still, her Silver Bolts.png Silver Bolts devastate high health champions like the River King, who struggles to even eat his Devour.png allies when Vayne's in the picture. She can Condemn.png Condemn Tahm Kench away from his ally, and even if he does manage to Devour.png Devour his marksman, Vayne can chase with Night Hunter.png Night Hunter before firing off her low-cooldown abilities once again.

Kog'MawSquare
Kog'Maw - the Mouth of the Abyss

Tahm Kench sloshes around perfectly inside a 'Protect the Kog' team comp. As the enemy attacks come pouring in to take down League's cutest Void puppy, Tahm Kench can just Devour.png Devour the little guy and Regurgitate.png spit him out at safe distance. Essentially, Tahm Kench has exactly the tool - or mouth - needed to cover Kog'Maw's glaring lack of escapes.

JannaSquare
Janna - the Storm's Fury

Flanking the enemy team becomes a lot less enticing when the enemy team boasts Janna among its champions. Cast Abyssal Voyage.png Abyssal Voyage behind the enemy team and Janna just has to cast Monsoon.png Monsoon, turning a favourable five vs five into a tragic two vs five. Even if the remainder of Tahm Kench's team try to engage, Janna has plenty of Tailwind.png speed boosts, Zephyr.png slows and Howling Gale.png knock-ups to ensure the fight stays favorable for her team.

SejuaniSquare
Sejuani - the Winter's Wrath

Sejuani and Tahm Kench come into their own during the later stages of the game, particularly whenever sieges start forming. If his team's struggling to defend a tower, the River King can take Sejuani on an Abyssal Voyage.png Abyssal Voyage behind the enemy team, instantly flanking them and setting up an easy teamfight for Sejuani to toss a Glacial Prison.png Glacial Prison into.

GnarSquare
Gnar - the Missing Link

Tahm Kench can take a beating in solo lanes, sure, but not the kind of beating that Gnar dishes out. In Gnar mini form, he has all the Boomerang Throw.png range, Hop.png mobility, and Hyper.png percent health damage to boomerang down the River King from range. And once he goes Mega Gnar mega, he still brings literal tons of damage while rocking enough health to withstand Tahm Kench's retaliations.

Champion Insights: Tahm Kench, the River King

By Conor 'fizzNchips' Sheehy [3]

Tahm concept 01

We sat down with the champion ideation team to hear about the process that took an idea - Fish Tank - and turned it into Tahm Kench Tahm Kench.

Game design notes
by ZenonTheStoic

As a role, tanks have generally brought one of two things to their team: either they're in the Amumu Amumu / Sejuani Sejuani camp of locking down an entire enemy team and setting up for a wombo combo, or they help their team lock down and eliminate a single high value enemy target either through chained CC (think Solar Flare.png Solar Flare into Zenith Blade.png Zenith Blade into Shield of Daybreak.png Shield of Daybreak on Leona Leona) or by throwing/dragging the enemy into the tank's team (Singed Singed, Volibear Volibear, Skarner Skarner) The challenge we wanted to tackle with Tahm Kench was to take a tank who did neither of these, and instead offered something completely different to his team. The art guys got scribbling, and soon started gravitating towards this Big Mouth character. This was a huge boost for us, with the visuals quickly inspiring a mechanic that was relevant to the champion's visuals and new to League, too: Devour.png Devour.

Tahm concept 02

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 Armored 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 Devour.png eat you over a wall, Regurgitate.png spit you over a wall, and run fast toward the enemy if you're a Tryndamere 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 Nami Aqua Prison.png bubbles or Vi Vi Assault and Battery.png 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.

"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!

"Okay. Tell me about enemy devour."

As a raw mechanic - taking enemies out of a fight and severely reducing their vision for a few seconds - enemy Devour.png Devour is incredibly powerful, which forced us to consider the circumstances through which it would be okay to use, even for a few seconds. We knew that Tahm Kench couldn't just go around eating enemy champs at will - that would be ridiculous - so we started figuring out ways to backload the ability, or establish X criteria that you need to meet before Y can happen. For comparison, Malphite Malphite can Unstoppable Force.png ult into a teamfight at will because Unstoppable Force.png Unstoppable Force is a frontloaded ability - it has immediate impact and once it's spent, he has to wait a long while before he can use it again. Because we had decided he would not bring the usual tank toolset of locking down an enemy, we couldn't allow Tahm Kench the same flexibility, so ended up implementing An Acquired Taste.png passive stacks into his kit. So, while Tahm Kench can eat enemy champions and take them out of a fight for a few seconds, he has to hit them with a few basic attacks (or licks) first. This takes time and proximity, and telegraphs his intentions to the enemy team, giving them plenty of time to peel for the River King's target.

While the rest of his kit certainly adds to his uniqueness (Thick Skin.png grey health, an idea we borrowed from fighting games, is also new to League, while his Abyssal Voyage.png ult is a really strong flanking tool that reinforces his Armored Personnel Carrier-ness) it was his Devour.png Devour that really set Tahm Kench apart from the rest. Hopefully you'll be able to make the most of the ability and wreak your own different brand of havoc with the verbose villain.

Art notes
by Chris Campbell aka Skeeziks and Gem Lim aka Lonewingy
The Ideation Process

The first few steps of our ideation process usually involve us setting a broad goal and then chucking around as many ideas as possible before we start whittling things down, centering our efforts around the ideas and hooks that really appeal to us. Knowing we were designing a tank, we started brainstorming literally anything, and a few weeks later, had five or six pretty solid concepts for League's next tank. Then the culling began!

After killing a few of our darlings, we had two solid ideas that we really liked: Big Mouth and Horror Tank. They each had unique hooks: Big Mouth used its mouth as a central tool, while Horror Tank was more of a vision denial and darkness terror. ZenonTheStoic, being a hairy German metal fan, was a big fan of the latter, funnily enough. We started toying around with ideas as to what these guys could look like, when Gem came up with this charming young chap:

Initially this sketch wasn't necessarily tied to any particular champion, but as Zenon toyed around with vision denial mechanics, and we tinkered with Big Mouth as a fish character, the two ideas kinda slowly formed into one. Plenty of fish species have pretty cavernous mouths, and more importantly, the look tapped into a pretty well-known devourer archetype in games (think Kirby, Yoshi, or Pac-Man) which hadn't yet appeared in League. Also, by creating a large-mouthed champion who literally ate other characters, we had super strong clarity between the character's visuals and their gameplay... aaaand we could totally nickname the guy 'Fish Tank'. It was perfect.

Tahm Kench Early Concept
The Devil's in the Details

Now that we had a basic look and theme for the champion, we started toying around with details. Initially we tried to incorporate some horror ideas into his appearance. We tried making Fish Tank a deep sea angler-type fish who'd attract his prey with a light, but it didn't really have the combination of grim and whimsical we were looking for. We wanted to add depth by injecting personality and intelligence into the character.

We imagined his mouth could be more than a source of physical danger - it could also express charismatic speech to lure enemies into harm's way. This outward charm would be something he used to mask his darker, true intent: Devour.png devouring his prey! A new piece of art helped to sell this duality of charisma and menace:

Tahm concept 06
You Are What You Wear

To complement this persona, we began to look at his clothing. Gem's very first sketch of Fish Tank had him wearing a fez (which led to another nickname: Fez Tank) something we really liked just for its sheer panache. See, Fish Tank didn't just have a big mouth - he was a big mouth, a devious storyteller who wore clothes to try and make him seem a little more human, and a little less threatening to potential prey.

Tahm concept 07

We tried giving him armor, but it didn't feel right - Fish Tank was a smooth-talker, not a fighter, and he'd spin his stories to gain the trust of his audience. Then we switched to a coat, or coats, to be more precise. He was much too large to wear regular clothes, so stitched two coats together to appear more relatable. Aside from giving Fish Tank yet another nickname - Twocoats - it highlighted the balance between whimsical and grim that we really wanted to find.

Tahm concept 08
Narrative notes
by WAAARGHbobo
Tahm concept 09

Whenever we create a new champion, the narrative writer starts by looking at the 'opportunity space' we want to fill. In this case we knew we wanted a non-CC tank that would be visually tanky without hitting any of the thematics we'd seen depicted before. Our early ideation process involves researching myths and looking for Jungian truths about the archetypes before we start writing lots of 'story sketches' - short stories (typically 2 to 12 pages) that depict the champion's character in Runeterra. These aren't canonical pieces, but instead conceptual reference stories meant to illustrate the personality of the champ and show thematics that we could express in their gameplay and art. They're written in tandem with work the concept artist and game designer carry out and, in the same way the concept art and early game kit inspires the team, the story sketch is intended to get ideas bouncing between everyone working on the champion.

We went a long way in developing some other ideas before ole' Tahm won our hearts and became our focus, but once we started on him we quickly realized he was going to be defined by his giant mouth. So my question became how to build a personality around that in an interesting way.

Tahm concept 11

I began to play with the the idea that his maw could represent more than just a simple physical hunger - his huge mouth could represent any unnatural coveting or unhealthy desire. Around this time, his hat became a very polarizing element: some people hated the thing, while others loved it. Either way, the common feeling was that it was unexpected - it challenged them. I suspected this disunity was a fertile ground which would define his character, so, sitting down to write what would be the last story sketch, I knew it was the topic I needed to tackle. Why did I think the hat was right? I felt the answer would be related to my strong desire to make Tahm's hunger be for something more than just food.

Tahm concept 10

What's the personality of a monster who wears a hat? Why does he wear one? Feeling my way through layers of irony, I began to see a creature that was whimsical, quite vain, very arrogant, and a bully. He was also, perhaps, a little insecure, but should ultimately still be terrifying. He mixed elements of crossroads devils, Japanese kappas, and leviathans. The best version of Tahm needed to balance the whimsy of his hat against a scary undercurrent (which the artist would later visually represent using his snaggle-toothed mouth) This combination would let us have a character who could occasionally be humorous without the risk of seeming derpy.

Media

Tahm Kench, the River King - Login Screen03:33

Tahm Kench, the River King - Login Screen

Tahm Kench's Theme
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Tahm Kench The River King03:44

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References