Utility plays a major hand in every League of Legends match, and if you’re looking to lend some through the Support role, there are few better champions than Thresh.
If you're looking for some helpful starter tips, check out the best LoL picks for beginner players.
Supports take to the bottom lane and focus on aiding the team’s Marksman in the laning phase, and the entire team later on in the match. While some Support kits offer damage or shielding, Thresh abilities center around his trademark hook. He excels at snaring enemy champions from a distance, opening up encounters and disrupting his opponents.
An average Thresh build will flesh out his utility options rather than bulk up his stats. His passive ability will build Ability Power and Armor overtime, leaving you with strong numbers in both stats by the late game. Free from the cares of defense and offense, practically every Thresh build begins with a sightstone and mobility boots, then focuses on active-heavy items like Locket of the Iron Solari.
Success beyond any Thresh guide will also rely heavily on technical skill and ability mastery. Enemy champions, even those not playing an explicit Thresh counter, can easily disregard poorly timed hooks and ill-combo’d attacks. This Thresh guide will walk you through not only the the Chain Warden’s abilities and builds, but the top Thresh counters and playstyle tips for optimal supporting.
Monsters, minions, and enemy champions drop souls when they die near Thresh, who can pick them up to permanently gain Armor and Ability Power.
Make sure you are consistently gathering souls throughout the game. They’ll eventually lead to great late-game AP and Armor.
Don’t die for souls. If they drop near a dangerous enemy champion, just walk away.
Q: Death Sentence
After a brief wind-up, Thresh tosses out his chain. If he hooks an enemy minion, champion or monster, he’ll deal a small amount of AP damage and begin reeling them towards him over 1.5 seconds. Landing a hook reduces Q’s cooldown by three seconds.
Death Sentence’s wind-up is both long and very obvious to the enemy. If you’re trying to hook a running champion, aim your cast a little ahead of them. If you notice your enemy trying to juke your hooks, aim a little to the side of them and let them run right into it.
Don’t reactivate your Q unless you really want to be face to face with whoever you hooked. Don’t put yourself into danger if you won’t be able to make a play there.
W: Dark Passage
Thresh throws out his lantern, which shields nearby allied champions. If an ally clicks on the lantern, it will fly back to Thresh, bringing his ally with it.
Use Thresh’s lantern to shield teammates in fights, pull them away from danger, and fling them close to the action quickly.
In lane, tossing a lantern backwards towards a jungler as you run towards the enemy can help set up a fast gank for your team.
Your opponent knows that throwing a lantern backwards means you could be setting up for a gank. Sometimes, you can toss it backwards and act aggressively just to scare off the enemy laners.
Thresh’s lantern can pick up souls. Use this to stay out of danger.
The strength of the lantern’s shield increases with the number of souls you’ve collected.
Passive: While he’s not attacking, Thresh’s basic attack will charge up and deal additional magic damage on hit.
Active: Thresh will sweep his chain, hitting any enemies in its path with magic damage and slowing them for one second. If cast forward, Thresh will push hit enemies away. If cast backwards, Thresh will pull affected enemies.
Flay’s passive damage will scale with souls collected and attack damage, but you’re not a Marksman; skip the B.F. Sword and grab some souls.
Keep track of where your cursor is when you cast Flay. You need to catch as many nearby champions in a line as possible, as well as decide whether you want to push or pull them.
R: The Box
Thresh puts up a pentagram of glowing walls around him. When an enemy passes through a wall, it breaks, dealing magic damage and applying a 99% slow for two seconds. Additional broken walls will do no damage and slow for only one second.
Flay enemies into your Box wall for maximum satisfaction.
Early Game Laning Guide
Thresh is arguably weakest during the laning phase, when supports and their Marksmen take to the bottom lane and 2v2 through the early levels. He can’t output as much damage as popular picks like Karma, Zyra, and Miss Fortune. He can’t tank like Alistar or sustain like Nami. He doesn’t even win out in the Crowd Control category, with hard CC picks like Malzahar and Leona on the table. In almost all engagements, Thresh and his laning partner will be outmatched.
Now that all your Thresh aspirations are dashed, let’s walk through ways to avoid lane failure.
Leveling Up Abilities
Take Flay as your first ability in all cases, with the only exception being jungle invades. If you’re roaming with your team, find an enemy, and have the opportunity to land a Death Sentence, go ahead and start Q in hopes of a first blood. Barring this scenario, take E. It will offer you both extra damage and some CC in lane, while your Q will likely not find a good target in your first level, costing you large amounts of mana and a hefty cooldown with any early attempts.
Put a point into Q at level two, and a point into W at level three. From there, you can either max your Q for the cooldown decrease, or put a second point into W -- to help with early game trading -- before maxing Q. Of course, put a point into your ultimate whenever possible.
Poking and Farming
Flay’s passive damage and Thresh’s minor range means you can poke your enemies a little in lane, but not much. Take a swing whenever they’re distracted with farming or repositioning, or if they’ve just burned their ability cooldowns. Otherwise, keep yourself out of danger. Thresh is certainly sturdier than Nami and Sona, but doesn’t exactly pride himself on health.
Use your range to instead farm minions whenever your Relic Shield is recharged. Take out siege minions whenever possible in order to share the largest amount of gold. Melee minions should be your next priority, with caster minions offering the least gold.
Your primary goals are going to be searching for engage opportunities and peeling champions off of your Marksman with your crowd control. The former will be much easier if you can maintain bottom lane bush control. As soon as your enemies see a Thresh move into a nearby unwarded bush, they have to turn most of their attention to the surprise hooks that could emerge.
Most likely, you’re going to crawl into the lane brush and the enemy will ward it. That’s fine. If you don’t have a sweeper yet, you at least get the satisfaction of knowing you’ve coaxed a ward out of the opposition that they could have used to ward for ganks.
If the enemy has strong poke, you’re going to find the bush battle a horribly terrifying one. Stay mobile, avoid damage, and keep searching for good hooks onto their Marksman.
Attempting to pressure a stronger lane duo may seem pointless and largely not in your favor, but a slow application of hesitation can disrupt the enemy’s rhythm, discouraging their engagements, messing with their farm, and hopefully opening up the opportunity for your own attack. At the least, if you’re nimble, you’ll take the attention off your Marksman.
While you’ll spend most of your time threatening the opposing laners with potential hooks, you’ll hopefully get to land one eventually. Mastering your aim and timing will take practice -- lots of it. Keep in mind the windup time, your opponents’ dodging habits, and the consequences of a miss. Hooks cost mana and have a large cooldown. As soon as you miss a Death Sentence, your enemy laners are likely to counter engage.
Hooking either the enemy Marksman or Support will be a boon, so long as your Marksman takes the opportunity to unload their attacks on your target. If you do land the Support, make sure you either take them out quickly or switch your attention to the opposing AD carry, else they’ll have free reign to pick off you and your teammate.
If you’re in range for a Flay, hit the enemy with it first to make landing a hook much easier. If you connect a Death Sentence first, and are strong enough to fight, then pull yourself forward and Flay the enemy away from their escape. If your ultimate is up, activate it after your hook, and then Flay them right into a wall. Keep you and your teammate shielded with your lantern, hook the Marksman when possible, and flay anyone who gets in your way.
Once the engage begins, you’re not much of a fighter, and your Marksman probably can’t tank. Don’t feel bad if you land a hook, unleash a couple attacks, and then back off.
Everyone on your team should be helping out with wards, but as your Marksman focuses on building their main damage items, you’ll be responsible for most bottom lane vision.
Make sure your team has vision in the river when the first Dragon spawns at 2:30. You’ll typically want to fend off ganks with a tri-brush and river ward, but junglers like Nocturne can swoop in from a distance, while fighters like Rengar are likely to go invisible before getting too close. Get wards farther out, preferably in the enemy jungle, to keep an eye on movements well ahead of time. As the game moves out of laning phase, continue warding map objectives and the opposing jungle, as well as sweeping to clear the other team’s vision.
Mid-Late Game Teamfighting Guide
Once the laning phase ends, both teams will begin skirmishing in larger battles across the map, and Thresh can finally fill a more suitable role.
With your shiny mobility boots, you’ll be able to chase down opponents and hook them into an unexpected death. Follow the same procedure as you did during laning: land a hook, drop a box, flay all day. The big changeup in your playstyle is mainly going to come after this engage.
The first instinct of new Thresh players, especially following the 2v2 bouts in bot lane, is to sit in the middle of a fight and auto attack enemy champions. Even though you’ve been collecting souls all game, however, you’re not doing much damage, and you’ll be among the first to die.
It’s time to step back, look in the mirror, and say to yourself, “I am Thresh, and my auto attacks don’t matter.” Once you unleash your CC and let out your shield, stay on the outskirts of the fight, far enough to avoid instant death, and close enough to throw out more abilities once your cooldowns run out.
With the build and tips in this Thresh guide, you should have no trouble jumping into Summoner’s Rift and living out your utility Support dreams. Keep a safe distance from counters, practice your hooks, and please, don’t forget to ward.
You’re always going to want to start with a Relic Shield, a Warding Totem, and three Health Potions. The Shield will let you execute minions and share the gold with your Marksman, keeping your income up during the slow laning phase. The warding totem will lend you some early-game vision.
If you’re feeling confident, you can opt for the squishier Ancient Coin over Relic Shield. Its upgraded form even has a fairly useful speed-boosting active. With the popularity of high damage supports and strong Support items to build early, though, the Shield tends to be a better all around pick.
Ideally, you’ll be able to buy a Sightstone on your first trip back to base, and exchange your Warding Totem for a Sweeping Lens. If you don’t have enough gold for a full Sightstone, grab a Ruby Crystal and a Control Ward. This way you’ll still get additional health and ward-clearing ability, just on a smaller scale.
Your second or third back, you should be able to buy your Boots of Mobility. Some players opt for Boots of Swiftness, which give you a smaller speed boost, but one that lasts in-combat. Both are essential for catching enemy players, though the former’s extra out-of-combat boost can really make the difference when it comes to nailing a great engage.
Towards the later game, you’ll want to round out your Thresh build with extra abilities, because nothing designed for pure tank or damage is really going to turn you into some deadly wrecking ball.
Redemption and Knight’s Vow can heal and dole out damage with their active effects. Locket of the Iron Solari will make you a little sturdier, as well as grant teammates a shield on activation. Mikael’s Crucible will cleanse yourself or an allied teammate of all slows, stuns, roots, taunts, fears, and silences, making it a must-buy against high CC teams, and a great way to protect your carries. If you want a tad more durability, go ahead and pick up a Frozen Heart, the classic Support defense boost.
A little less beneficial than these items, but still worth your time eventually, will be the full upgrade of your Relic Shield into Face of the Mountain through a Kindlegem. You’ll enjoy the benefits of its 10% cooldown reduction, especially as fights start to grow longer.
You’ll want to purchase a Control Ward or two on most of your backs. Vision is critical to staying safe, taking objectives, and keeping track of the other team.
At level nine, do not forget to upgrade your Sweeper into Oracle Alteration. It makes your ward-clearing skills portable, and it’s free. Never forget free.
Next up in our Thresh guide are counters, champions that pose a large risk to this pick. Thresh is all about the hooks, and struggles in scenarios that render his signature move less effective. Champions with spell shields, like Morgana and Sivir, can easily negate his chain, flays, and box, making it nearly impossible to land a good engage. Similarly, supports like Tahm Kench can quickly swallow their Marksman up if they see your hook incoming.
Other counters include champions that wouldn’t mind at all getting dragged closer to your team. Leona, Taric, and Alistar will happily take a hook to the face, since their playstyles benefit from getting tanky and hard engaging their enemies.
And then we have mobile Marksmen -- champions like Ezreal and Lucian who can blink or dash away from Thresh’s abilities, all while tossing out great poke.
Thresh also needs to be careful around heavy poke matchups. Though they aren’t mechanically counters, champions like Karma, Caitlyn, Zyra, or Lulu can pick at Thresh’s health before he is able to make a play.
Supports that counter Thresh:
Marksmen that counter Thresh:
- Tahm Kench
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