Few League of Legends supports bring as much to the table as Thresh. Whether it’s starting an engage, pulling off an all-in, setting up a deadly trap for your enemies, or saving your allies from the brink of death—Thresh can do it all. But there are huge differences between someone who’s just starting out on the champion and a person who’s already mastered him.
This guide will aim to introduce you to Thresh’s playstyle and explain exactly what you need to do to carry your games from the support position.
See also: The League of Legends Betting guide and LoL Worlds
Thresh can collect souls from the fallen enemies. Each soul gives him 0.75 ability power, 0.75 armor, increases Dark Passage’s [W] shield, and bumps up Flay’s [E] minimum magic damage by 1. Souls last for 8 seconds and only drop from the enemies that died near Thresh.
How to use: If you’re new to Thresh, it’s easy to forget that a lot of his scaling comes from the passive. The bonus ability power and damage are definitely nice, but the real thing you’re after is armor. Since Thresh falls somewhere in the middle between melee and ranged champions, he’s a lot squishier than most frontline supports, so it’s vital for you to pick up as many souls as you can to scale well into the late game.
Q: Death Sentence
Thresh winds up his scythe and throws it in the chosen direction after a 0.5 seconds delay. If the scythe hits an enemy, it deals magic damage, stuns them for 1.5 seconds, and pulls the target a short distance towards him. While the hook is active, Thresh can reactivate the ability to pull himself towards the target.
How to use: Death Sentence is Thresh’s bread and butter. This skill is extremely useful for starting fights and peeling for your carries. That said, the 0.5 seconds wind up makes it quite hard to land, so it’s often best to use it in combination with other abilities.
W: Dark Passage
Thresh throws his lantern to a chosen location. The lantern remains there for 6 seconds, collecting nearby souls and giving vision of the surrounding area. Moreover, the lantern shields the first ally that comes near it and can be used by one of Thresh’s teammates to dash to his location. If Thresh moves too far away from the lantern, it automatically returns to him.
How to use: Dark Passage is your primary way of saving lives. Is your teammate overextending? Did your AD carry caught out of position? Or do you smell a gank coming? Take a few steps back, throw out your lantern, and save the day! Keep in mind that enemy champions, minions, and even wards can block your lantern, so it’s best to throw it away from the action where your allies can click on it. Also, don’t forget to use Dark Passage for its shield in all-in scenarios.
Passive: If Thresh isn’t attacking enemies, his basic attacks charge up to deal bonus magic damage on the first hit. Active: Thresh sweeps his chain to deal damage, slow, and pull the enemies hit in a target direction.
How to use: Flay is your main trading tool. Walking up to a reckless AD carry and flaying him towards yourslef will make it much easier to land a Death Sentence [Q] and start a successful all-in. On the other hand, you can use Flay to knock the enemy champions away and protect your carries. And don’t make light of the passive bonus since you can use it both for getting your Relic Shield stacks and for trading with your enemies.
R: The Box
After a 0.75 seconds delay, Thresh summons 5 walls that last for 5 seconds. If an enemy champion tries to pass through one of these, the wall breaks, dealing damage and slowing the affected champion by 99% for 2 seconds. If the champion hits several walls, only the first one will inflict damage, and every following wall will slow him for 1 second instead.
How to use: The Box works great in combination with Flay [E] and Death Sentence [Q] to create a death trap for your adversaries. Thresh’s ultimate can be used to peel for his allies or to slow down chasing enemies when you’re trying to make an escape.
The good thing about Thresh’s skill orders is that every single ability of his can be viable when maxed first. For example, you can invest skill points into Death Sentence [Q] if the enemy team has multiple squishy targets or prioritize Dark Passage [W] to get a stronger shield and a lower cooldown on your lantern. That said, the standard Thresh skill order looks like this:
Three points into Flay give you a solid presence in the laning phase that doesn’t rely on landing every single hook while investing skills into Death Sentence grants you plenty CC for the mid-game teamfights. Just keep in mind that your skill order isn’t set in stone, and sometimes it’s worth deviating from it to adapt to the in-game situation.
Ruтes, Masteries, and Summoner Spells
Thresh runes are fairly straightforward. You want 9x attack damage marks, 9x health seals, 9x magic resist glyphs, and 3x armor quintessences.
This rune page will give you a mix of trading power and survivability that will be especially useful in lane. Obviously, if the enemy team doesn’t have any magic damage, you can swap out your MR glyphs for armor, health, or CDR.
Masteries have also been figured out.
The Courage of the Colossus keystone gives Thresh the much-needed survivability for his all-ins while other Resolve masteries beef him up even more. The Cunning tree is used for the mana regeneration and the out of combat movement speed. There is some room for flexibility here.
For example, you can swap out Explorer for Tough Skin if you’re going against an aggressive ranged support like Zyra. Or you can exchange Bandit for Greenfather’s Gift if you want to add more bite to your poke. But for the most part, you won’t be making any huge mistakes by running the same mastery page every game.
As for the Summoner Spells, most of the time you want Flash and Ignite. Flash is an incredibly versatile tool that can be used both to set up plays and to get out of harm’s way while Ignite makes your all-ins that much more dangerous. Although, if the enemy team has several threats that aren’t easy to CC, consider switching Ignite for Exhaust.
Thresh’s core build offers a great mix of survivability and utility that will make it easier to support your allies in teamfights. It should look something like this:
(Ruby Sightstone – Boots of Mobility – Redemption – Locket of the Iron Solari – Face of the Mountain – Control Ward).
Ruby Sightstone is a great purchase that will synergize with your other items by reducing the cooldowns of their actives. Boots of Mobility will let you open up the map with roams and deep wards. Redemption gives useful stats like health and CDR, and its active is a potent teamfighting tool. Locket of the Iron Solari grants you a good mix of resistances and a powerful shield for the entire team. And Face of the Mountain is pretty much all you could ever ask for—health, CDR, gold per 10, and a single-target shield to protect your carries. Finally—barring some late game situations—you always want a free slot for Control Wards to help your team set up traps and seize the objective control.
Just like with any champion, it’s good to know when you can—and should—make changes to your build.
While you will often want the Ruby Sighstone, you can replace the item with the Eye of the Equinox because of the latter’s earlier powerspike. Plus the lower cost and a more natural build path mean that you will get a faster access to the additional ward charge.
In a similar fashion, Face of the Mountain can be swapped for the Knight’s Vow. Of course, Face of the Mountain is better when dealing with burst damage and assassins, but Knight’s Vow will make your AD carry/support duo much more durable in prolonged teamfights.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re the only tank on the team, consider getting Ninja Tabi or Mercury’s Treads to boost your survivability. Sure, it will be tougher to find Death Sentences [Q], but even the greatest hook won’t amount to much if you die in a matter of seconds. In a similar fashion, Gargoyle Stoneplate can make you surprisingly durable in teamfighting scenarios.
Consider getting a Frozen Heart in situations where the enemy team has several auto attacking carries (i.e. Tryndamere, Master Yi) that you can jump on in teamfights. Also, look into purchasing Mikael’s Crucible if the enemy team has hard-CC that’s tough for your carries to avoid.
And don’t forget to buy Elixirs of Iron when your build is finished!
When to pick?
Thresh is an extremely versatile champion, which means that he’ll be useful in most scenarios. That said, there are certain cases when he can be a bad fit. For example, if you see that you’ll be the team’s only frontline, you’ll likely become a sitting duck in teamfights. In this case, champions like Braum, Tahm Kench, or Alistar might work better. For the same reason, Thresh isn’t ideal if his hook is your only form of engage, so look into picking Bard or Blitzcrank instead.
Matchups and Counters
Always consider what bot lane you’ll be facing. Some matchups can be won with a single hook while others are designed to shut your champion down.
Morgana will make your existence a living hell by denying your CC with her spell shields. You can counter this by baiting out her spell shield early and taking advantage of the cooldown. Alternatively, you can threaten to hook her AD carry only to fire a Death Sentence [Q] at her instead. Even so, a good Morgana will be a major headache for the entirety of the game. The same concept applies to Sivir.
Marksmen like Ezreal and Lucian will have an easy time avoiding your hooks and punishing you for overstepping your limits. Try to bait out or predict their dashes. If that proves to be too hard, switch your focus to their support—maybe he’ll be easier to catch out.
Champions like Alistar, Braum, and Tahm Kench—while not outright countering you—can seamlessly shut down your CC and turn the tables on your all-in. Be extra wary of fighting them 2v2 and try to chunk them out instead.
Ideally, Thresh wants to go against squishy ranged supports or immobile AD carries that can’t avoid his all-ins. Think Sona, Soraka, Nami, Ashe, Varus, etc. But even then, there’s no guarantee that you will come out on top.
In the end, Thresh is a pick that’s highly reliant on player skill. If you’re adept at the champion, you can even one-trick him all the way to the top of the Solo Queue ladder. But if you’re not a Thresh expert, you can easily be punished by most other supports.
Laning Phase And Early Game
Thresh’s laning phase relies on a mixture of poke and all-in potential. The dream scenario is getting a fast level two and using that powerspike to hook + Flay [E] the enemy AD carry or to go for a Flash all-in. But good opponents won’t give you that sort of opening often, so you’ll have to find other ways to gain advantages. For example, your enemies will often assume that you’re trying to engage on the AD carry, but a hook onto the support can be just as deadly. Also, remember that Thresh doesn’t have to face the same direction where you fire your Death Sentence [Q]. Use this to confuse your opponents and blindside them with a sudden hook.
Not all of your fights have start with a Death Sentence [Q]. Sometimes something as simple as walking up to Flay [E] an overaggressive AD carry can turn into an even better setup. And don’t forget to let your jungler know that you can pull off some creative ganks with your Dark Passage [W] + Flash combo.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to constantly be looking for opportunities. If you have a hunch that the enemy jungler (or the mid laner) is nearby, play back and be prepared to throw a lantern to save your AD carry from an incoming gank. Also, consider buying early control wards to keep nearby brushes warded at all times.
Finally, there will be times where you either fall too far behind or aren’t able to do much because of the nature of the matchup. This doesn’t mean that the game is over, though! Rush Mobility Boots and look for opportunities in other lanes. Sure, this won’t make things better for the bottom lane, but you might be able to find key advantages in the other parts of the map.
This is where the vision wars begin. By this time, you should already have your Mobility Boots and Sightstone, so all that’s left is finding the right spots to use them. In general, you want to set up vision around places where your team can secure objectives. Got an Infernal Drake spawning soon? Go there a minute earlier to light up the area. Your team wants to siege their mid lane turret? Look into setting up deep wards in the enemy jungle or—if that isn’t possible—ward for the possible flanks.
Swap your Warding Totem for the Sweeping Lens and be extra mindful of where their support is going. If you see him placing wards, be ready to clear them or walk around them to set up an ambush in the fog of war. When it comes to starting teamfights, your best bet is to Flash + Flay [E] or Flash + Death Sentence [Q] someone. But Thresh really shines in situations where someone else begins the fight, and all you have to do is follow up or peel for your carries.
Finally, mid game is where many of your allies start getting caught. Always keep tabs on both teams’ champions. See your Jax pushing top with no vision while your opponents went off the radar? The Jax is likely getting ganked soon, so try to save his life with your Dark Passage [W].
This is the part of the game where a single kill can mean victory or defeat. Your Dark Passage [W] will be especially important in scouting brushes and saving allies from certain death. Always keep Baron and Elder Dragon warded because these objectives will decide the outcome of your game. In extreme cases—when neither objective is up—you can replace your control ward slot with another defensive item (like Gragoyle’s Stoneplate).
Just keep in mind that control wards are still a much better choice when Baron or Elder Dragon is on the map. Also, if you’re not in a position to contest these objectives directly, try to set up a steal together with your jungler and throw a lantern into the pit to save him afterward.
There won’t be much skirmishing going on, so it’s paramount that you know what to do in teamfights. A lot of it comes down to the game flow. Let’s say your team has a fed Kog’Maw, but the enemy Rengar and Zed are constantly looking to burst him down. Then your best bet will be to use your abilities to peel for your AD carry. On the other hand, if the Kog’Maw is on the opposing side, a single Flash + Death Sentence [Q] can win your team the game. Just make sure to hit Tab and check whether the marksman has a Quicksilver Sash—otherwise, you might end up flashing to your death.
If you’re looking to carry a LoL match from the support position, you won’t find a better pick than Thresh. The champion offers a great mix of utility and playmaking, and you’ll always have a ton of tools that can help you break open the game. All that’s left is learning how to use them.
See you on the Rift!