Shen is a ninja, but not the usual most people expect that tumbles through the air and dodges every hit. This ninja epitomizes the true meaning of that Japanese word — the enduring one. Shen takes hits, shrugs it off, then hits back with twice the force. As a tank, Shen has become a staple due to his versatility and his ranged taunt that is so useful in team clashes. Needless to say, this is a champion that any LoL player needs to learn.
Shen, despite what we may think with our stereotypical views on ninjas, is one of the best tanks if not the best. He is a champion that has his teammates all wanting to have his babies. Shen is a team player and by picking him means you are taking upon yourself a very crucial role, the role of the main tank. Shen is proof that being a tank doesn’t mean that you’d be lacking in the offensive department as he can drive enemies back and deal enough damage to make them think twice about fooling around with you. That’s what teams are looking for when it comes to tanks, and Shen is great for those roles.
Being Shen means that you’re right in front, ready for action. When a push is called for or a team fight is imminent, you’re the leader and you take the hits. What you really need when playing Shen is the ability to predict your enemies’ movements so that you can catch them off when they’re about to escape or go for one of your squishier teammates. Shadow Dash is your most useful skill in this scenario as it is a quick dash towards an opponent with a taunt, which is great for a lot of situations.
A good tank must be able to initiate well through a number of ways other than just taunt, which should be saved for enemies that channel ultimates like Miss Fortune. However, you have to use it whenever a teammate is in trouble since that is much more important. You will then have to rely on your teammates to use CCs to deter the enemy from channeling ultimate skills. The point is to not let your team get focused by the enemy by making them target you instead.
Your team will not engage the enemy team and come out of it alive without you around. You can just tell them to back off when things aren’t set yet. Playing Shen means that you have to know how to judge the current situation and sense the level of danger. Being a tank doesn’t mean that you should get yourself killed because you think that you won’t. A dead tank is a useless tank, and your team won’t have one while you’re dead. A tankless team is a weak team, so don’t be silly, stay alive, and keep your teammates alive.
When the enemy team is all clumped up and charging towards you, the best thing to do is to oblige them with a good fight. That’s when you should have your team come together and take them out. In order to take advantage of such opportunities, you must have map awareness and the right amount of aggression necessary to lure the enemies in using Shen’s Shadow Dash, then get them grouped together in a tight pack, and finally eliminate them. The reason behind the grouping is to ensure that your taunt gets to as many enemy champions as possible.
Basically, Shen is an all-around tank that With masteries, most veterans go for 8/21/1 with Ghost. You should focus on mostly defense, but don’t take Strength of Spirit since Shen doesn’t use Mana. Some AP and CDR would be nice as well to make him enough of a threat in the field. Runes are mostly subject to debate when it comes to Shen due to the possibilities with his build. A lot would go for armor red, dodge yellow, magic resistance blue, and health quintessences, while some question the use of energy runes in this case. It really depends on one’s playing style, but defense seems to be the priority for Shen as he is a tank.
Suffice to say, a Shen user must not be shy from a leadership role, unless someone else in the team feels more inclined to take up that role. Nonetheless, what Shen does is the hero duty — being the man up front. If you don’t like being the target of hostilities, then don’t play this champion. For those who truly dare, Shen is that champion whose mask is merely the cover of courage within.
Ki Strike (Passive) – Every 8 seconds Shen channels Ki into his blades to perform an attack that deals an additional magic damage of 3.5% of your health and also damage that scales down to your level.
This gives you an offensive edge so that your sword still has a use after all, despite all that emphasis on defense. In fact, you deal more magic damage if you have more health, so tank away and enjoy farming.
Vorpal Blade – Shen deals magic damage to target unit. That unit becomes life tapped for 5 seconds, healing any champions who attack it over 3 seconds. The attacker’s healing duration is refreshed each time the life tapped unit is struck again.
This skill should be your bread and butter, great for harassing, farming, ganking, and definitely healing. With the low cooldown, you can use this over and over again to do damage and keep your health up. With the Vorpal Blade, your teammates can heal off the enemy hit with it, so this makes you a very good laning partner with some support capabilities.
Feint – Shen enters a defensive stance, shielding himself from some damage. Lasts up to 2.5 seconds.
This is a skill that demands a lot from your foresight in predicting enemy attacks towards you. Once you see someone about to hit you with something, use this skill right away and save your skin, then you can either attack or flee, depending on the situation. The 2.5 second duration is more than enough to weather most storms, so learn to use this properly when playing Shen.
Shadow Dash – Shen rapidly dashes to a target location, taunting enemies he collides with. Restores 50 Energy if you hit a champion.
This is what makes you useful in the first place. You dash forward and taunt anyone in the way, so this is most helpful when your enemies are in a tight grouping. With this skill, you can make sure that your enemy’s attention is yours and not your teammates’. Also, you can taunt invisible enemies with this, so you can Shadow Dash through the brush to catch whoever may be hiding in there. This is a versatile skill that can be used in a lot of situations.
Stand United – Places a shield on a target allied champion, which will absorb damage for 7.5 seconds. After channeling for 2.5 seconds, Shen teleports to the target’s location.
This is Shen’s ultimate skill and a testament to the importance of teamwork in League of Legends. As the name suggests, this is a team skill that lets Shen help an ally in need. For example, your teammate is being ganked right in front of you, but he’s too far away to get to in time. Use this ultimate skill on him to help him survive, then get to his position, where you can use Shadow Dash to take all the pain and let your teammate either escape or take revenge by picking them off. Stand United is a very useful skill when things get really dicey.
Exhaust – There has to be more that you can do than just taunting opponents. If you can help it, use this in order to slow your target down for you and your teammates to finish off.
Ghost – Mobility is still very important, especially with the multitasking juggernaut that is Shen. Having Ghost allows him to move out of dangerous situations so that he can tank more and not leave his teammates to die horrible deaths in the hands of the accursed enemies. Don’t be a fool and take this spell to not be “that guy” who didn’t do his job.
Cleanse – If you’re up against a team with lots of debuffs, that may dampen your performance as the game drags on. Cleanse is a good spell to have so you won’t get stopped in crucial times.
Flash – Just like Ghost, this is mostly for your mobility in and out of most crucial situations. This is faster than Shadow Dash, so you can chase down targets more quickly. You can also escape gankers more easily, but that’s if you don’t have Ghost.
The choice of items is really up to you, and most of the recommended items by Riot Games are pretty good. Here are some that should be put into consideration.
Doran’s Shield – The fundamental starter for Shen for survivability in the early game. The aim here is to lane and farm until you get to at least 1100 gold, by which time you can return to base and buy another item, most likely Boots of Speed and potions. Of course, it’s recommended that you stay as long as you can and get your gold to around 2500 or so, but that’s not that easy.
Mercury Treads – From Boots of Speed, you can get this one to transition to a Warmog Armor. Obviously, you need quite a bit of movement speed, so get this right after Doran’s Shield.
Warmog’s Armor – Get Giant Belt, then aim to get this item as quickly as you can. Once you’ve gotten it, you can be less afraid of whatever you may face while laning as it gives the biggest health boost here.
Frozen Mallet – This item gives both HP boost and offensive improvements at the same time, so there is little reason to not take this.
Atma’s Impaler – With armor, critical strike, and +2% of maximum HP to your damage that stacks with your Ki Strike. This item and Frozen Mallet are very good for Shen as they give bonuses to both offense and defense considerably. You’ll be having fun once you get them, so try at least a few games with these items.
Your sixth item slot is situational, depending on your enemy team’s composition and the overall scenario. You have a whole plethora of choices here, ranging from Zhonya’s Hourglass, Randulin’s Omen, Guardian Angel, Force of Nature, Thornmail, Sunfire Cape, and so on. Assess the situation well and get the best item right into the late game.