Optimizing Amumu as a tank in competitive plays - by Atlantisssss

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An effective use of Amumu as a optimal tank!

Introduction: the utility maximization of a tank

I will skip the skill description, how to use them correctly, etc. I assume that the readers are familiar with this champion in most ways. Masteries are also personal choice. Most use of 0-21-9 or 9-21-0 would suffice.
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As we have seen in the first tournament finals video and many competitive game plays, Amumu is certainly one of the best tanks in the game. Although the recent change of cleanse severely compromises the overall effectiveness of his ultimate, Amumu’s unique skill set of AOE damages, damage reduction, a stun, and an AOE disable make him a formidable, if not the best disabling tank in the game. This guide will follow a sunfire cape build, as I believe that sunfire cape is well fit for Amumu, synergizing with his second skill, despair. 

What roles does Amumu, or any tank serve in a team? It is a commonly accepted idea that a good tank should have AOE disable that he can use; using the tanking capacity to jump into the middle of the enemies, use the AOE disable, create a chaos among the enemy, and then hopefully, the enemy will focus fire you. As a tank, your objective is to take as many hits in the team fight as possible, until the moment you die. Theoretically, it may be better that you take EVERY hit in a fight until you die; your armor and magic resistance, along with your health, should make it more efficient for your team for you to take as much damage as possible. This allows your squishy damage dealers to stay alive and shred the enemy champions. 

Malphite is a superior initiating tank by a large margin. Nunu, with the recent modification of cleanse, is a superior AOE damage dealing tank. Alistar is a much more useful early game due to the AOE stun available at level 1. Frankly, Amumu’s ultimate, which deals quite a small damage and a 2.5 second AOE snare, is not such an overpowered skill, especially with cleanse. I came to believe that optimal utilization of Amumu is to build a persistent damage-dealing tank that is tempting to attack for the enemy team. 

The common weakness of all disabling tanks, is that after their initial AOE strike (malphite ult-ground slam, alistar pulverize-headbutt, Nunu ult), they are not important targets of attacks due to their low damage output. It is logical to target the squishy DPS carries and mages than to target a malphite who already spent his ultimate. Malphite may be the best initiator due to his “bowling ball of doom”, but after his initial strike, the enemy has very little incentive to target him, making his tanking capacity obsolete. Therefore, the way to optimize a tank’s effectiveness is to provide the enemy with the incentive to focus fire you. I believe that persistent damage, rather than burst damage, should be better for this purpose. 

Finally, how is it possible for Amumu to do this? The answer is his second skill, % per second life drain, synergized with sunfire capes. Sunfire cape, combined with despair, drain 5% or so health of most champions with Amumu’s presence alone. This AOE damage is not something to be ignored, and the continuous use of tantrum, along with Amumu’s positioning (you should be close to your enemies, preferably in the middle of them) makes Amumu a tempting target in a team fight. Remember; using this strategy successful will generally result in terrible K/D ratio, as I found myself rarely having more kills than deaths using this. However, this maximizes your usefulness in a team fight and the likelihood of your team winning the team fight. 

General item build and Justifications

1.Doran’s shield:

While many people would (correctly) suggest buying a blue crystal or red crystal as the starting item in order to build catalyst the protector, I felt that I generally perform better early game with a Doran’s shield. Remember, if you intend to engage in a level 1 fight, a red crystal may serve you better, as it grants you about twice as much health. However, Doran’s shield is in fact a superior laning item, as the tiny amount of armor and health regen is not something to be overlooked under level 6. After many trials, I have found myself generally starting with a Doran’s shield and a health potion. Health potion is often considered to be a superior substitute for a health regen item; for its price, it serves the same purpose more efficiently. 

The goal of the early laning phase is to remain in your lane without pushing nor being pushed until you gather 890/1240/1940/2090 Gold. Each of these numbers are the amount of gold necessary to purchase Chalice of Harmony and Basic boots/ Boots of Speed/ Mercury’s treads. Remember: Doran’s shield allows you to stay in your lane longer before your initial shopping trip. I believe that reaching level 6 before your first trip home is quite important. 

2.Chalice of Harmony:

Although there is a widespread consensus that HP and Mana items, namely Catalyst the protector, is superior to the regen items, such as philosopher’s stone and chalice, I have found myself in need of regeneration more than total mana for Amumu. Especially during the laning phase, as I use despair in early levels for farming, I find the mana regeneration more necessary than the overall mana pool. The total mana pool is unquestionably more important for burst damage mages, such as annie and veigar. However, understand that most of Amumu’s damage output results from damage over time, simply from Amumu’s presence near the enemies. In order to fully utilize despair in the early stage of the game (this is almost a built-in madred’s bloodrazor with AOE), I find chalice very useful. In addition, for a sunfire cape build, Amumu will lack magic resistance; 40 magic resistance in addition to good mana regen seems quite cheap for 890 gold. 


Generally Mercury’s treads or Boots of speed: This is one situational choice that you need to make in the game. Generally, if your early game performance has been towards your team’s favor, Boots of speed should be the boots of your choice. If the enemies have more than 2 slows or more AP oriented than physical damage, then you must consider Mercury’s treads. With Mercury’s treads and Chalice, Amumu should have around 100 magic resistances, which is a decent magic resistance to have; magic resistance has diminishing returns. 

Here is a case for the boots of speed. Amumu exerts the most damage output by staying close to the enemy champions with his despair and sunfire cape effect. Therefore, being able to slightly outrun your enemies can drastically change the total damage output of Amumu in a team fight, especially if it ends up dispersing you are one of the few champions with enough health left to do the clean-up. The positioning is the greatest determinant of Amumu’s damage output. Therefore, roughly 10% better movement speed that the boots of speed grants is quite important. The statistics of my records – I have played roughly 50 games as Amumu prior to writing this guide, testing mercury’s treads and the speed boots- show that my total damage output is about 15~20% higher in the matches that I use the boots of speed than mercury’s treads. Of course, there is the variable that I get mercury’s treads in the games where I have harder times. Nonetheless, unless the enemy has many slows to obsolete the effects of your speed boots, I recommend speed boots above mercury’s treads.

4.Sunfire cape – Sunfire cape is actually the main damage output item in your shopping list. Out of all of the champions currently in the game, I believe that Amumu is the best fit to use the sunfire capes in effective ways. In combination with despair, sunfire cape exerts formidable damage output that makes Amumu’s total damage output sometimes comparable to the carries.

Here is an example: at around level 11 (about 20 minute mark, when you will likely be able to afford your first sunfire cape), most champions will have around 1500 health, give or take some catalysts. Amumu’s despair (let’s assume for this case you have put 3 levels into it, giving him about 3% life drain per second.) Again, the exact numbers are not so important, since different champions with different items and rune configuration will have quite some different health/magic resistance. Amumu’s damage output per second is: 40 + 1500 * 0.03 = 100 per second. Assuming that the enemy has some magic resistance, let’s say that Amumu deals about 60~70 damage per second. This may seem negligible, but remember: this is a persistent AOE damage that comes purely from your presence alone. You will be continuously slamming on E for tantrum and occasionally auto attack as well. 

With ubiquitous heals and health items (due to the rise of catalyst), most team fights last quite some long time (more than 5~10 seconds). In this case, your total damage output from simply standing in the middle of your enemies can almost sum up to 1/3 of several enemies. Combined with your ultimate, bandage toss, and tantrum, your presence can easily overwhelm many squishy carries, who are tempted to focus fire on you; if they do, you will likely be shut down quite quickly, as you will likely jump into the middle of the enemy team. However, if they do, your team’s squishy carries will hopefully shred the enemies in the <5 seconds of chaos that you will create with your ultimate and tantrum spam. 

Some people argue that after 2 sunfire capes, it is better to buy an abyssal scepter in order to maximize the damage output. However, sunfire capes are superior tanking items due to more health. I came to conclude that magic resistance is not as important, for the enemy mages will likely be more considerate in targeting their spells than the enemy DPS carries; if the mages target you, that is good. The goal of this build is not to maximize your damage output, but to maximize your usefulness as a tank. The damage output of sunfire capes and despair serve as the incentive for the enemies to target you instead of your squishy carries. Therefore, the tanking capacity is always more important than your damage output. 

Skill build
1.Tantrum – overall damage output and farming capacity of tantrum is better than the other 2 at lv 1.

2.Bandage toss – This is a skillshot stun that can be useful. Just in case it is needed in the laning phase, I take one level of this skill at level 2.

3.Despair – this is the most important skill in Amumu’s skill set in my opinion. After level 3, I rotate between despair and tantrum, ignoring bandage toss. 



6.Ult – well, obviously



9.… you get the picture. Max out the bandage toss last.

Early Game

There is not much I would like to say in this part; staying in lane while last hitting minions is a common sense, using tantrum to ensure last hits is also a decent idea. Against other melee champions, hitting them with auto attack or tantrum to agro the minions may sometimes help you gain the cool down of tantrum to last hit multiple minions, so if used wisely, deliberate minion agro can be helpful. Amumu is not quite useful early game; in low level fights, you won’t really do much. Amumu reaches his potential around level 12, when his despair and tantrum are maxed (especially despair). Also, Amumu’s damage output is severely dependant on sunfire capes, so early engagements are not so recommended. Of course, if your lane opponent has 200 health left, bandage toss – auto attack – tantrum combo him by all means; if your lane mate can land one nuke or an auto attack, that would be a kill. However, I recommend that you stay defensive and last hitting as long as possible. 

I do not see jungling Amumu as the most effective form either; jungling should be shared by all of the team mates, likely during the shopping trips to the base. Heading to the jungle and leaving your lane mate alone in the lane may cause a pushing disaster that I am generally unwilling to risk. Generally, I like the strategy of taking a moment off the lane to jungle the golems/wolves and returning to the lane immediately, with the rest of my teammates doing the same thing. After level 6, or your first shopping trip, sweep the wraith camp if your solo did not do it already. It is always better to take EVERYTHING in your jungle as a team, as long as it does not result in your towers being pushed. 

Approaches to the team fights

Let’s skip the common sense part (clairvoyance, jump them before they jump you, wait for your initiator, etc) and head straight to the function that Amumu should serve. Generally, people like using the bandage toss to jump into the crowd and immediately using the ultimate. Well, this used to be the best approach, allowing Amumu to be an initiator in the team fights. However, with the ubiquitous cleanse, this strategy is somewhat obsolete. 

So, you have 2 options; bandage toss at the beginning, or save it for a more crucial moment. These two options have some tradeoffs, since an initial bandage toss will allow you to position yourself more easily. Of course, if you save it, you can stun a low-health enemy near the end of the team fights. This is largely situational, so do whatever that seems like a better fit. 

One thing to keep in mind is that your enemies are humans and that they do not always have lighting fast reflexes. If you suddenly bandage toss into them and land your ultimate, you may catch many of them off-guard and they may be late casting cleanse. Also, making all of your enemies waste their cleanse on your ultimate is generally beneficial for your team. 

Although I have stressed the importance of jumping in the middle of the enemies and making them focus fire on you, this serves no purpose if the rest of your team is not in the position to immediately attack. As long as most of your team can immediately follow your lead and attack the enemies, you should jump into the middle of them. If your team has a better initiator like malphite, follow his lead by all means. However, it is fine if you find the opportunity to bandage toss their carry to initiate the team fight. 

For the duration of the team fight, stay in the center of their team. With the despair and sunfire cape, the individual members of the enemy team will have incentive to move away from each other. If they position themselves too far from each other, they will lose the focus of their fire power, as well as allowing your team to focus one of them more easily. I suggest than you constantly move around in seemingly random pattern, generally rubbing yourself against their squishy carries. Even if you are killed in the process, if you can drive their main damage output source away from the team fight, it is likely that the rest of your team will have an easy time. Your goal, of course, is to convince as many of your enemies to attack you instead of your squishy carries. If they make the logical choice of ignoring you, then they will suffer more from your presence than ignoring any other tank. Either way, Amumu is optimizing his use as a tank. 


I am somewhat uncertain about purchasing a banshee’s veil at this time, since the new cleanse makes it somewhat unnecessary. I would appreciate everyone’s insights as to building a banshee’s veil. Generally my logic is that even if the enemy team is AP-focused, the sunfire capes and their damage output should be the main focus of the build. Since a tank with no damage output can be ignored at a low cost to the team, building a tank with a persistent damage output would increase his usefulness by increasing the incentive for the other team to attack you. Overall, the continuous use of despair and sunfire cape makes Amumu one of the best farmer in the game after his first sunfire cape (he can simply walk by a wave and tantrum to kill an entire minion wave). As long as you maintain the farming superiority against your enemies, your tanking capacity will be sufficient to stand a significant amount of hits. 

This guide is in no way complete or “correct”. There may be a superior way of playing Amumu. I always appreciate other people’s inputs to this. Thank you for reading.

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