Caitlyn Build Guide by JstylishJing
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
You guys can call me Jstylish or "RaigaJing", I play on US Servers for League of Legends and I'll be doing an in-depth guide on how to build and play Caitlyn. This is my first guide written for Mobafire, so any advice will be appreciated.
This is a character that I've played non-stop for over 2 months, and I think it's about time I pass on what I've learned and mastered to those that would have any interest in such a Champion. Within those 2+ months of playing, I've always believed that Caitlyn was superior than the notorious Ashe before and after her nerfs. I think this guide will hopefully prove that.
This guide is not for those who have the worst kind of tunnel vision, and those that spend more time farming than making things actually happen with their team.
This guide was also based off the following:
My 5v5 Premade Normals Experience
My 5v5 In-house Premade Experience
My Normals Duo - Quad Queuing Experience
My Duo "Solo" Queue Ranked Experience
Side Note: I no longer progress in ranked. Nonetheless, the experience is there and to be perfectly honest, I RARELY do any queuing on my own.
I wasn't given a free Arctic Warfare Caitlyn Skin for nothing, you know?
Special Thanks to "Figgots" for providing me the skin <3
Proof of Ownership!
Pros & Cons
Powerful AD Ranged Carry, especially late game.
Outstanding farming capabilities.
Has a great attack range advantage.
Can play well in ALL lanes, if bottom lane has a Support Champion.
Her skills have a long animation, preventing you from moving and lets you be open for attacks.
Harsh Mana Pool.
Her ultimate can be blocked, ultimately preventing a kill most likely.
Normally there's a bit more Pros and Cons, but these are the main ones. The rest are usually based off situations such as escaping capabilities or positioning.
I can't stress this enough, people will get armor to counter you if you're a scary Caitlyn. Armor Penetration is suppose to counter that. Lacking in such statistics will render you USELESS. Then again, it's just a rule of thumb.
Greater Mark of Desolation
Like I said before, if you lack this, you will be punished in future games against those that tend to build armor as a natural habit. Having all 9 Marks will grant you 15 armor pen, so I strongly recommend to run these as your Marks.
Greater Seal of Replenishment
You can replace these if you want, but I choose these over other runes because having some sort of mana regen allows me to use my Q more often than not while still being able to launch my ulti-skill. I still recommend having these types of Seals if you want laning dominance.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist
These can also be replaced by your personal preference, I just like the Magic Resist if I'm fighting someone fierce like a Veigar, Annie, or some type of AP champion.
Greater Quintessence of Desolation
My favorite set of quintessences with Caitlyn, having these with the Armor Penetration Marks will grant you a TOTAL OF 25 ARMOR PEN. Having this total amount of Armor Penetration and with the items you're building will grant you easy kills over tanks.
Here's some optional runes that you can use that I've seen other Caitlyn's use for their personal preferences.
Greater Seal of Attack Speed
The players that use this with Caitlyn usually want this type of Seal for the purpose of easy farming. If you prefer this, replace the Mana Regen Seals with this.
Greater Seal of Attack Damage
To be honest, I don't know the purpose of having this. I can only assume that it's for that SMALL amount of extra damage for farming or early game harassing.
Greater Glyph of Replenishment
If I see anyone with this, they're usually stacked with Greater Seal of Replenishment as well to improve mana regen for the cost of defense. Use this if you prefer more Mana Regen.
Both of these are usually generalized as your escape skills since you're mostly targeted in team fights. Having these are pretty much essential, however, you can always switch out a spell to your personal preference.
Everyone, including myself will ALWAYS have this spell on Caitlyn. It works wonders in the Jungle if you need to get away or get into position quicker. This also works well with your E skill via Yordle Snap Trap.
This is another main summoner spell to use and I usually use this exclusively if I'm trying to catch a dying target. It's also another great escape spell and I recommend having it on top of having Flash.
Any of the optionals are fine too, but you usually pick these if you have some sort of discomfort with either getting kills, lacking in Creep Score, or you have some Auto Attack champion sticking to you like glue because your team can't keep them off of you.
Out of all of the optional choices, this is probably the most reasonable one. If you're encountering problems with people like Master Yi, Udyr or any of the sorts that rely on Auto-attacking, then this is probably the best choice over the recommended summoner spells for you. This is also including losing faith in your teammates if you think they can't keep off any certain champions off of you.
This is also an okay summoner spell to have if you can't get the kill with what you currently have. Sacrificing an escape spell for this is probably okay for you if you're not so hot at getting kills on your own accord.
If your the type that lacks in last hitting and needs more farming to keep up with the opposing team, then I'd probably recommend this. Having this though means you alter quite a bit of the play style that is recommended for Caitlyn, since you'll be expected to defend towers on the go.
To be honest, using her skills during a team fight comes with a risk like no other. Try to use these when you're in the best position so that you're not stuck in a fatal animation that could cause you a death. I'll go over with every single skills that she posses and how they should be used in fighting.
Headshot - PASSIVE
This allows you to do greater damage when it pops. Use it sparingly between harassing and farming during early - mid game phases. As you progress in the game with better items, you'll hit like a truck since a Headshot can also do critical damage.
If you play top or bottom lane, you can utilize the bushes to make this occur more often than normal. If you happen to be in a bush during a team fight, 9/10 cases that the fight will turn into your favor because of the passive and extra damage. Sometimes I don't prefer using this a lot though since auto attacking in bushes grants vision to the enemy.
This is usually your most used skill when you play as Caitlyn. Try to use this to keep control of the lane, but don't use it too frequently to where your Mana is used up. It's also okay to use this skill for harassing, if you can land it. However, as said before, don't use this skill too often!
During team fights, being well positioned to use this is ESSENTIAL. Guaranteed that if most of the opposing team is grouped up, the results of using this at that precise time will be well worth your time for using this skill.
Skill Leveling Priority: HIGH
Yordle Snap Trap
This skill is very important, always grab this as your first skill to protect your jungler from unsuspected gankers. Grabbing this first will also allow you some laning advantage which will be discussed later in the guide. Ultimately, this skill could grant you easy kills or increase you and your teammates' safety.
Skill Leveling Priority: MODERATE
90 Caliber Net
This skill has very little purpose unless it's backed up with Flash. 90 Caliber Net is usually used for getting through small obstacles, slowing down an enemy or fleeing. Try not to focus points into this versus Piltover Peacemaker and Yordle Snap Trap.
If you have Flash and you're in a serious pinch while being at the right area, you can always use 90 Caliber Net over an obstacle, then use Flash over another for a guaranteed escape.
Skill Leveling Priority: LOW
Ace in the Hole
Even though it does a nice amount of damage on the target it hits, try to use it accordingly. Two reasons is one, it can be blocked by any opponent champion that goes in its path thus missing the target you're aiming for. Two, it has a harsh cooldown. Consider those two reasons and find the perfect position and time to launch your ultimate. Doing this will grant you MANY kills in future games.
Skill Leveling Priority: HIGH
Item Building as Caitlyn
I pick this over other builds simply because it provides so much Armor Penetration, quite a bit of life leech, and still have so much damage power. I've ran this build in all of my games as Caitlyn and have yet to look down on it. It's quite a powerful build, especially when Tanky DPS is a common team composition nowadays.
I'll go over each item and explain why I pick them from left to right as the build order.
Attack speed means faster Headshot procs. If you're well placed in every team fight, you shouldn't have to pick a different type of boots for your safety. Berserker's Greaves will pay off ultimately in the end in middle to late game.
Having this will allow you to hit like a truck in mid-game+. It provides quite a bit of base damage AND increase in critical damage. Doing a critical damage with a headshot proc with this item could very well mean the end for the person that gets hit with it.
This is to add up the critical chance and attack speed, making you attack faster and doing so much more critical hits than usual. It also provides Movement Speed which contributes to your chasing and escaping.
The Black Cleaver
This provides attack speed, damage and stacked Armor Penetration. Not only that, it's fairly cheep for such an item with lots of beneficial effects for any AD Ranged Carry. I suggest getting this as soon as you get Zeal in your build.
This will be the last in your item build next to Banshee's Veil or Guardian Angel. This provides attack speed, health regeneration, life steal and powerful armor penetration. This last part of your item will make any tank or tanky dps drop before you know it.
I'm fully aware that this item is a team item and it alone without a Unique Passive only provides 20% Attack Speed. In the many matches that I've played with Caitlyn competitively, I've realized how uncommon people run with Zeke's Harbinger on any Champion. The only time you'll probably see Zeke's Harbinger other than you is probably on a Xin Zhao. If there seems to be a case where someone is already building a starks, continue with your core items and get something else beneficial then. Perhaps The Bloodthirster?
Starting off, I recommend starting with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potion's simply because this starting build will provide you even more time in the lane. However, if you're laning with a support such as Soraka or Taric, then I suggest Doran's Blade for more HP and Attack Power instead. Either conditions will grant you a lot of time to farm in your lane.
IF YOU CHOOSE:
You will want to farm up enough to purchase 2x Doran's Blade before purchasing Berserker's Greaves. Sustainability is far more important than attack speed, so finish your boots last. Remember to buy Health Potions in between your purchases so you can still maintain yourself in the lanes much longer for farming.
IF YOU CHOOSE:
You will want to buy your Boots of Speed including another Doran's Blade as fast as possible. You don't want your opponent to be any faster than you, if not more. Again, buy Health Potions from each purchase to maintain farming. NEVER FORGET!!
If you did pretty well in your lane without dying, but still maintaining 1 - 2 kills and have a nice amount of creep score, you should end up at this point. Your damage will start to pick up, and you'll be hitting for considerable damage thanks to your critical headshot procs.
After your basic early game build, work for Infinity Edge. Start off with a B.F. Sword, then buy a Cloak of Agility, leaving the Pickaxe last. This will provide you an okay amount of damage before building this item.
Get this after your Infinity Edge is fully built. This will be your ending core item and the beginning of your hard hitting damage.
You can choose any of the following that are preferred with Caitlyn. I still prefer Berserker's Greaves as my main boots since it provides me the attack speed I need to kill faster and farm. I'll go over each individual boots regardless though.
Boots of Swiftness
This was more preferred on Ashe, but Caitlyn can use them as well. Use these if you want better maneuverability around the map.
If you want the best out of Caitlyn, it's more preferred to have these on her than any other boots. This gives her a faster chance to proc her Headshot and possibly more critical chances thanks to the attack speed of Berserker's Greaves.
This can also work with Caitlyn. If you're the type to get stunned a lot, then this item is probably more preferred for you. It also provides a bit of magic resist if needed.
Any of these items are said to work well with Caitlyn too. I find them situational and used if I'm truly having a poor game. It's up to you if you wish to use these items though.
Short fact. I've argued many times why this weapon doesn't make Caitlyn any more powerful than she could be. I'll admit though, it's a good item if you're doing poorly and you need damage immediately to keep up. However, I find it that going for such an item will just drop the flow of Caitlyn's damage considerably later on. If you can avoid dying and still maintain its passive buff, then go for this if you're doing poorly.
This was also argued over The Black Cleaver and the The Bloodthirster, but not as often. I personally hate the benefits of this item. The damage is okay, and the Armor Penetration Percentage is nice though. However, I still prefer The Black Cleaver thanks to Attack Speed, Damage and Armor Penetration being put together at decent numbers with such a low cost. If you really need this though, buy it.
Depending on the situation, you might be better off getting this than Banshee's Veil. Determine what will work best for yourself and the team before purchasing this item. This item only works best if you can utilize the second chance it gives with your team still around.
If you need a last-minute save item, this is probably your best bet. Getting a Caitlyn Ghost thanks to Mordekaiser probably isn't the best for your team. So let this item save you that trouble if you do happen to run into this situation often. It provides lots of Magic Resist and an Active that destroys ALL DEBUFFS on your character. The only item that I'm sure that deserves to be on my Optional Item list.
the guide is well thought out but the build i dont really like. I would recomend trying a Youmuu's Ghostblade and/or a Cloak and Dagger the crit chance works wonders with her headshot and the armor pen( Youmuu's Ghostblade) or the tenacidy( Cloak and Dagger) will make a huge difference in what you can do in teamfights
My Response and Explanation
So I did some number crunching on the Youmuu's Ghostblade and the Cloak and Dagger combination versus the Infinity Edge and Zeal before The Black Cleaver combination. To be honest, I don't know when you prefer to build Youmuu's, but I'm going to assume it's at the beginning.
Buying this combo saves you 1,000+ Gold, though that is an okay price to save up, you come with very little results in the end. You may attack faster and have a higher critical chance, but you lose a lot of damage potential which could significantly harm you in team fights EVEN with the 20+ Armor Penetration. I can only see this build happening if you're wanting to end the game quick and you're completely ahead of the opposing team.
The consequences of not ending that game quick with this build is none other but not having significant damage in future fights. Regardless what you build after Cloak of Agility and Youmuu's Ghostblade, you'll only start lowering your potential in killing.
Remember that the key to building a successful Caitlyn is to build her with consisting growing damage, attack speed and armor penetration while maintaining a nice amount of HP to survive a few hits. Infinity Edge will provide you that significant damage that is needed, her most powerful damage comes from this little formula that I've made here:
Headshot Damage + 250% Critical Damage Increase from Infinity Edge + 80+ Attack from Infinity Edge + 20% Critical Chance = ???? <--- Your highest and most likely average damage with just an Infinity Edge.
Playing Styles as Caitlyn
Playing as Caitlyn and my Playing Style
Like I've said before, I've played and practice Caitlyn for 2 or more months straight without touching another Champion. With that being said, most of the things that I will say later on in this guide will mostly be true. I ALSO STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT A PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE CAITLYN IS THE BEST PLAYSTYLE FOR CAITLYN, and that is what I'll go over in this section of the guide.
When I play as Caitlyn, I am always the Passive-Aggressive type of player. I strike when I can, and spend most of my focus on map awareness and farming. I also have some certain laning styles that I've made on my own when I play as Caitlyn. I'll admit, I don't have a name for these styles but depending on certain conditions, there's 3 ways that I lane as Caitlyn whether it's top, middle, or bottom lane.
TRAP ZONING - Solo or Mid Lane
When it comes to laning for early and mid-game, I like to properly place my traps accordingly to keep my enemies at bay even before Minions spawn. 9/10 cases, enemies will avoid these traps because of the consequences of hitting them. This allows you laning dominance and gives you a more comfortable laning phase and free farm.
This is my most used type of lane as Caitlyn.
DEFENSIVE TRAP LANE - All Lanes
If I feel unsure of my safety, I place 2 out of 3 traps onto the aggressive side of the lane, and the remaining trap to my most vulnerable side --- the usual spots where junglers come out of is usually where I trap mostly. Of course, that defensive trap is usually placed depending on who's jungling and where they start off at. That all depends on your judgement. This also provides you a comfortable and semi-weaker laning phase.
BAITING TRAP LANE - Solo and Mid Lane
This is my favorite style, and it usually works on all greedy players that are naive enough to think they can kill you on the spot. This is where I hide a trap where minions usually gather around on, but the remaining two traps are placed normally as if I'm playing the Trap Zoning style. Where this certain trap is placed at, is where I will usually spend my time moving about on continuing my farming and harassing. Any player that tries to flash on top of you or charge you accordingly will MOST LIKELY run into this trap, either granting you a glorious kill, or an easy getaway.
Those are basically the 3 types of laning techniques that I use when it comes to my Passive-Aggressive playing style as Caitlyn. I'm kinda hoping that this will encourage current / future Caitlyn players to start using and refreshing their traps more often than usual.
Trapping as Caitlyn
This will be a continued version of the previous chapter, and somewhat an introduction to the next. In this section, I'll be discussing the 3 methods starting from top to bottom mentioned in the previous section using traps. Keep in mind, this is assuming that you start off with Yordle Snap Trap at Lv. 1 and manage to keep 2 traps with you available for the lane and 1 for jungle protection.
This is technically for zoning and preventing some movement. Notice how I have one trap on the upper part of the lane, and the other two on the lower part of the lane.
Fighting in Lane as Caitlyn
In this section, I'm only going to list a selected few of Champions that you might have trouble against. I will NOT tell you how to counter them completely in this guide since you can only learn by observation and actually experiencing it.
One truly annoying champion, just make sure you have your sustainability items before she hits Level 6. Otherwise, she'll most likely just kill you in one entire combo thus making your life miserable.
Nothing really difficult about her, you're actually more likely to have a stalemate with Sivir dodging each other's skills. The only thing annoying about her is her using her Spell Shield to destroy your traps, decreasing your laning dominance.
Another annoying champion, avoid doing fights when he uses Blinding Dart. Bring an Oracle's Elixir with you if you're willing to spend that extra money for your protection.
Another stalemate, yet annoying fight. Only pop your potions after the effects from Explosive Shot are gone and after being safe from any future attacks.
This will be the champion that will either make you go back more than often, or kill you depending if you know how to dodge. If you can dodge all of Urgot's Noxian Corrosive Charge, then you can most likely counter this champion with ease.
He's potentially annoying. Again, dodge his skill shots, hide behind minions if you have to. Punish him and farm considerably. If you let him land any of his skills on you, you'll just make him even more annoying than he should be.
Headshot Passive as Caitlyn
This will be a short section, and I'll try to cover this as thoroughly as possible. I know that I've covered a little bit of this Passive in a previous section, but I want to talk about another commonly discussed topic about Caitlyn, which is harassing with her passive.
There has been a rule of thumb created saying that if you don't harass with your Headshot Passive, then you're not a good Caitlyn. In true matches, your opponent most likely knows this rule of thumb of yours already. Chances are most likely that he WILL NEVER ALLOW YOU to hit him with a powerful passive.
I ask myself a few questions before I consider firing my passive at an opponent during farming / laning phase. These questions are:
Should I sacrifice X AMOUNT of Creep Score(s) just for the sake of harassing?
Is he close enough to even fire off the passive?
If not, how long is it going to take for me to close the distance to fire it?
These questions are easily answered on the go. Answer them before you fire your passive to harass. Making the wrong choice could easily make you miss quite a bit of creep score because of your wish to harass incorrectly.
To be perfectly honest, I harass and farm with both normal attacks and with the passive on. It's easily done by asking myself those few questions above. This way, I still maintain farming performance and laning dominance. I hope this clears up the Headshot Passive thing that people are talking about with Caitlyn.
Ace in the Hole as Caitlyn
When to use, when not to use! How to use it, how to not use it!
As far as my experience goes, there's been an argument on when to use it and when to not use it. There's also been times where I see another Caitlyn firing Ace in the Hole for no true purpose. Maybe just for the sake of it? In this section, I'll tell you the secrets and the benefits of firing a proper Ace in the Hole as Caitlyn.
THE CASUAL WAY
Let's start off with the most casual use of Ace in the Hole, this is basically when an opponent is near death. This is one of the many opportunities to fire Ace in the Hole. However, to be more specific, you fire Ace in the Hole (When first obtaining this skill) when an opponent has a little bit less than 2 bars of health. This will grant you an easy kill if you can drop an opponent to this much health and have Ace in the Hole ready.
THE CLEVER WAY
Only do this when you have no potential way of killing your target. If you can't kill your laning opponent, then send him back 100 times over and punish him for being so ignorant and annoying with Ace in the Hole. By doing so, you grant yourself more farming time and decrease the opponents farming time and fighting performance significantly depending how many times you send him back. You may not be able to get the kill, but you're SHUTTING HIM DOWN from his lane.
This only works during the laning phase.
THE NOT-SO-BRIGHT WAY - NEVER DO THIS!!!
If you have no real purpose of firing Ace in the Hole, then don't fire it. Firing it randomly is senseless and could probably have your team members yelling at you for not having Ace in the Hole ready when needed. I added this because I thought it'd be entertaining to add in the guide.
Team Fights and Positioning as Caitlyn
I can't stress this enough, target the squishiest target that you can find and kill him / her. It's a fine rule of thumb that the squishiest champions are MOST LIKELY the dangerous one out of all of them that you're fighting. Flash to kill if you have to, Ghost to avoid getting killed if you have to. This is particularly any AD Ranged Carry's job and Caitlyn can utilize that role well with her attack range.
I'll admit though, sometimes there's no possible way to kill the squishiest champions in the entire team fight. If that's the case, just keep switching targets from the least tankiest person to the tankiest. At least in this case, you're still utilizing yourself.
I can't explain how to position yourself as Caitlyn exactly. Everything is situation based. For example, depending on how much crowd control that your team has, you might be better off staying in the middle of the team rather than in the back. If you're in a team that lacks crowd control, being in the back or sneaking up from behind is probably more preferred.
There's also the opposing team to keep in account, sometimes they also have the same amount of crowd control versus yours. Maybe they have even more crowd control than your team does, maybe less than you. It's a matter of good judgement that decides your positioning in team fights. It may seem confusing at first and you'll probably die more often than you should because of it, but you'll start making good judgement on how to position yourself with your team.
Map Awareness and Warding as Caitlyn
Knowing and Seeing with the help of Map Awareness and Wards!
I've mentioned somewhere in this guide that this isn't for those who are truly tunnel visioned, this statement is true. If you lack the awareness to know where the opposing team members are and where your teammates are as well, then you probably shouldn't play Caitlyn.
Ward your vulnerable spots as Caitlyn, regardless how safe you feel. Just because you're probably good at your selfish map awareness doesn't mean you can't give your other teammates some information as well. This allows you, and your teammates to make the best judgement to handle the situation. I'm aware that your jungler in the team is suppose to be warding as well as your support. Let's face it though, make a bit of contribution to the team than just farming and killing without making calls or providing visual knowledge to your teammates.
As for your own Map Awareness, things that you should take in mind when you lane by yourself or with your laning partner is the position of all the opposing teammates. MORE IMPORTANTLY, the jungler. If you can nail down a timer, a route prediction, as well as the jungler's champion, then you have no excuse of dying in your lane. Be aware that just because the first gank failed on you doesn't mean he won't come back right after the first attempt. In my book, I call this term a dummy gank.
Honestly, this section is generalized for all champions, but I've decided to type this section up anyways to remind you that there is such a thing called Warding and Map Awareness.
* Positioning / Team Fights Section. DONE
* Team Composition and Comparison Section.
* Warding and Map Awareness Section. DONE
* Possibly some polishing on the Guide itself.
I'll try my best to get these up as fast as possible. Hopefully it'll be up by the end of this week!
Any recent updates or fixes of the guide will be in THIS section. So if you're looking for some particular update, look here and it'll probably answer your questions.
Updated Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 8:35 PM
Fixed a typo error on the explanation of 90 Caliber Net.
Added a section discussing about proper use of the Headshot Passive during laning phase.
Added further explanation of the use of Zeke's Harbinger in the Item Building section.
This is where the guide ends. At this point, you should now have some understanding that she has a lot of potential than what is simply said in other guides. Hopefully this guide will help current, or even future Caitlyn players.
To be honest, Caitlyn is probably my favorite Champion thus far in League of Legends next to the notorious and slick Nidalee --- before she got nerfed. Since I've played as Caitlyn for so long, it resulted me of making this guide just for you guys so I hope typing this up pays off in the end.
I'll be updating this guide from time to time since I still want to add on to it. I have a lot of knowledge of Caitlyn locked up in my head so yeah. Thanks for reading my guide and I hope I get lots of positive feedback and votes.