Caitlyn Build Guide by Luther3000
Hi friends, I'm a veteran LoL player who has been playing the game and following the competitive scene for three years. I main AD carries with about 1600 normal games played. I don't play much ranked but in season two I reached Gold (1505 Elo) and in season three I reached Gold I (~1800 Elo).
About two and a half years ago I bought Caitlyn and she has remained consistently one of my favorite champions in the game. My first guide was also for Caitlyn, however it became very outdated and I've learned a lot in the time since then. Recently I saw Doublelift playing an excellent Caitlyn at IPL5, which reignited my desire to play her and made me realize how strong she still is.
In other words I like to think that I know what I'm talking about.
Caitlyn is a ranged Attack Damage carry, a role that specializes in building massive amounts of damage and annihilating enemies from a distance.
Caitlyn's strengths compared to other ADCs are her considerably superior range; the average ADC has a range of 550 whereas Caitlyn's is 650, allowing you to hit your opponent without receiving damage in return. Caitlyn's abilities combined with this range allow you incredible poking and zoning potential and make her a very safe, strong pick that has very few losing matchups. Caitlyn is considered to be one of the best ADCs in the game at present.
On the downside, her mid game is somewhat weak and her aggressive pushing/zoning style of laning invites ganks from the enemy team. She's also not the best in a straight up duel to the death, so if you fall too far behind on Caitlyn you could find the game snowballing against you.
If I write anything you don't understand, please check this thread before asking - LoL Terminology
AD marks are the most logical choice with this Lifesteal quint setup. You need the extra AD from these to help you last hit minions and give you increased damage on your harass. Alternatively you can use armor penetration runes here but if you choose to use them you'll have a very difficult time with last hitting.
Armour seals are fairly self explanatory, the metagame will have you always laning against another AD carry (or possibly AD bruisers) which makes armour runes required unless you want to take huge amounts of damage and die a lot. Never play without these as soon as you're summoner level 20.
MR glyphs are simply the best remaining choice, as there aren't a whole lot of glyphs that benefit an ADC. Flat MR is generally better because most bot lanes have enough magic damage to cause you issues, but if you're certain your lane opponents will have no/very low magic damage you can take per level instead. If you feel like you're having mana issues, replacing some MR with flat mana regen can be a good option - but I don't recommend replacing more than 4.
Lifesteal quints are absolutely amazing and have been underestimated for a long while. With these combined with Doran's Blade your sustain is very high and lifesteal also scales into lategame better than any other quintessence. The alternative is using attack damage, which will give you a little more damage on your early harass and easier last hitting. Right now I prefer to use this mixture of 2 Lifesteal and 1 AD.
The choices are all fairly straightforward here as far as Offence is concerned. You're an AD carry, your job is to do as much damage as possible so you want to go deep into the tree picking up all the AD-based masteries while ignoring the AP ones.
I take points in Butcher and Feast instead of Double-Edged Sword , Spell Weaving and Blade Weaving because I feel those masteries aren't particularly good and don't suit Caitlyn well.
I like to spend the remaining 9 points in the Defence tree to pick up useful laning masteries. Block and Unyielding allow you to trade more effectively, more health is always extremely useful and 2 health regen is actually pretty significant early on.
If you prefer something else, it's also perfectly fine to spent 9 points in Utility or a mixture of Defence and Utility as you please.
|||||||||This is a great choice to replace Barrier if you're worried about the other team's CC. Bear in mind that this does also remove the effects of both Ignite and Exhaust, the two most common offensive summoner spells you'll see on your lane opponents.|
This passive gives you a nice amount of extra damage, essentially half of a critical hit. It's very good for harassment early game and also becomes pretty scary later in the game once you have some items built up. When it's ready you'll hear a sound effect and see a glow appear around Caitlyn's hands.
Make sure to try to use the shot on your lane opponent as much as you can, because it hurts a whole lot. At the very least you can use it to scare them into backing away from you. It's worth noting that this charges twice as fast when you shoot from brush.
Caitlyn's main ability. This thing does massive damage and has very long range, so use it to keep up the pressure on your opponent early game and chunk down their health. Once you get good at predicting your opponent's movements you can deal a lot of harassment damage through proper use of this ability. This is also your main tool for pushing the lane.
Bear in mind however the 1 second cast time not only requires you to predict your target but also makes you vulnerable as you're forced to stand still for this time. Later in the game once you have items built up you'll notice that because of the cast time you actually start to deal more damage with autoattacks than by using Q, so at that point in the game it's advisable to only use this to poke or when several enemies are clustered together.
This ability is one of the keys to what makes Caitlyn such a strong zoning champion. You can put these in a line of three across your lane behind the enemy minions and it makes it incredibly hard for your opponents to last hit or make any kind of play without receiving a lot of damage in return.
You should be sure to place traps around the area when your team is attempting an important objective such as Dragon or Baron. If the enemy team show up they'll have a tough time navigating around them during the fight. If an enemy gets stunned by an ally, you can place a trap right on top of them to chain your CC. Also use these to block off the path of enemies who are chasing you or your allies.
It's very important to keep in mind that these traps give a very brief period of vision when you place them down. This means that you can and should use these to check for enemies in unsafe brush or over walls.
Despite the misleading description the most important part of this skill is actually the recoil. This skill is Caitlyn's escape and it works basically the same as Flash, although unlike Flash it does have a short cast time during which you are still vulnerable. Use it to escape, chase and cross walls by aiming in the opposite direction to where you want to go. Remember if you are being chased hitting the net will apply a significant slow on one enemy.
Usually you'll be using this to pick off low health enemies who would be able to escape otherwise. Bear in mind that even though this can be blocked, the travel time is very fast so it requires close proximity or the use of Flash to block the bullet. You can get some unexpected kills in lane by hitting a good Q to take an enemy low and following it up immediately with this. If you can get both enemies low you're more or less guaranteed to get a kill on one of them. It can also be used simply to pressure an enemy into going back to base or stop a recall.
Do not use this ability in the middle of a teamfight. The massive cast time actually means that you'll deal much less damage than with autoattacks and you're a sitting duck while it channels.
Caitlyn's E skill has a few interesting interactions with her other skills, most notably the fact that it can completely cancel the animation for Piltover Peacemaker whilst launching it from where you were standing before you used E. This is done by quickly using E and pressing Q immediately afterward before you move (it helps if you're using smartcast). The result is that your opponent has to deal with a virtually invisible Q coming from an unexpected place, possibly while being slowed by your net. This is a useful combo that can take people by surprise and you can follow up with your R afterwards if you want to go for a kill. It also happens to look incredibly cool. The video below is the best example of this that I was able to find.
||This item gives you a huge amount of stats, significantly enhancing your early and mid game. It's very strong for a pushing and poke oriented Caitlyn, giving you heavy hitting autoattacks and abilities and allowing you to sustain forever. Once you buy this you're free to autoattack and trade with your opponent as much as you like as you can heal massively from farming minions. If possible you should prioritize buying the B. F. Sword over the Vampiric Scepter because the damage makes you much stronger in lane.|
||Boots are a requirement for every champion and these boots give the best stat for an AD carry, however the stats they give really aren't very helpful in most laning situations. If possible you should always focus on building up The Bloodthirster before getting boots, though gold amounts don't always work out that way. If you happen to be at base with ~300-400 gold you can pick up Boots of Speed earlier in the game.|
||AS and Crit chance are must-have stats on an AD carry, combining with your AD and lifesteal to give you strong consistent autoattack damage and sustain. This is the better late game oriented choice for your AS + Crit item, giving you higher stat boosts compared to Statikk Shiv. In terms of DPS this item is considerably better, especially later in the game when Shiv's passive becomes much less useful. Shiv was recently nerfed pretty hard and for this reason I now recommend PD over Shiv.|
||Later in the game you'll probably notice that your DPS during teamfights starts to fall off versus high health tanks - this is a sign that you need IE. This item is essential in every AD carry build because the critical passive synergises so incredibly well with Phantom Dancer to make your DPS absolutely insane. With it, you'll be able to three shot enemy squishies and even full tanks will die quickly under sustained fire. Another option is to rush this as your first completed item instead of The Bloodthirster, which will make you weaker in early/mid game and at pushing/poking but will accelerate your increase in teamfighting power.|
||You can put this on your boots later in the game once your core is complete if you have some spare money to burn. This helps out somewhat with your kiting, but there are more important things to buy.|
||Replacement for Phantom Dancer. Compared to PD, Shiv gives you a stronger early and mid game with its passive by attaching up front area damage to your first autoattack, allowing you greater ability to poke or burst down enemy champions and push lanes very quickly. This damage will fall off very quickly later in the game however, and the item offers considerably less in actual stats than PD does. If choosing this item it becomes even more important to move around in between your autoattacks because doing so will actually enhance your damage. Prioritize buying Zeal before Avarice Blade unless you're a long way behind and just trying to farm up and avoid fighting.|
||Replacement for The Bloodthirster. This item is more effective than BT if your opponents are stacking up a lot of health, but bear in mind that the passive damage cannot crit like AD can. You may also wish to buy this for the active, which is highly useful as a self-peel against some bruisers or lower mobility assassins as it creates a large movespeed advantage for you. Unless you rushed Infinity Edge you'll have to sell your BT to pick it up though, because it's a pretty bad item to buy early on Caitlyn.|
||Replacement for Guardian Angel. This is the best defensive item if you find yourself dealing with a lot of magic damage on the enemy team or you're facing off against a fed AP carry, particularly if they have one large nuke or CC spell that will go to waste against the shield - Kassadin, LeBlanc or Annie for example.|
||Replacement for Guardian Angel. This is a pretty good defensive item that works essentially the same as Cleanse, except notably it also works on several non-cleanseable ultimates - Warwick, Malzahar, Skarner, Mordekaiser and Zed are some examples that can be removed with the active. The weakness of this item is that it has virtually no effect against a bruiser or assassin jumping on your face and won't stop you dying very quickly. Remembering to actually use it at the correct time can also be an issue.|
||Replacement for Guardian Angel. This may seem like an unusual choice for an AD carry, but when facing an enemy team with an extremely high amount of AD casters or AD-based bruisers it's actually a pretty decent choice. The combination of high health and armour gives you the most effective stats against such opponents, while the passive and active serve to slow down enemies who run at you and help out your ability to kite. That said, I still feel that GA is generally a better option.|
||Replacement for Enchantment: Furor. This enchantment is absolutely great in any situation where you're behind in a game or find yourself basing a lot. The massive movespeed boost lets you get to lane much faster or catch enemies and make plays when your base is under attack.|
||Nice little boost lategame for when you have no room for items or can't afford any. If you have the cash you should buy one of these late in the game when you feel that the next fight will decide the outcome. I don't really recommend it but if you're feeling brave you can also get one of these earlier in the game and try to bait out a fight against your lane opponents, since they work as an instant bonus to both current and max health when used. You can think of it as a mini- Heal.|
||Doesn't do very much for Caitlyn, but once you've finished everything else and still have money left after buying red elixir you might as well pick this up. The CDR can be somewhat helpful.|
In the current metagame, AD carries are played in bot lane with a support champion. Here's a quick list of supports in rough order of how good they are with Caitlyn.
||Annie is pretty broken as of season four. She has a targeted stun to allow you to land a free Q and autoattacks, 625 range harass and extreme burst damage AoE for duels and teamfights. She is currently the best support in the game without a doubt.|
||Lulu has some very strong poke ability to compliment Caitlyn's, with her slow also making it easy for you to follow up with Q and autos. In addition she is great at keeping you safe with CC, shields, movespeed, and extra health from Wild Growth.|
||Zyra excels at pushing and poking, just like Caitlyn, as well as bringing a powerful AoE ultimate for teamfights. Her weaknesses are that she's very squishy, dying quickly if caught out with burst, and her CC can be hard to land properly.|
||Like Lulu, Karma brings a great deal of poke damage to your lane and has a slow to enhance your own poke. She also has a lot of utility, with a snare, shield and a Talisman of Ascension-style effect on her Defiance giving your team unparalleled mobility.|
||Sona has a huge amount of poke and a great ultimate, but she doesn't fare nearly as well in season 4 as she did in the past. She's incredibly squishy, which makes her very vulnerable to current popular supports and to jungle ganks.|
||Nami offers an excellent buff to your poke in her Tidecaller's Blessing, however like Sona she is extremely vulnerable in season 4. Nami has very little damage of her own and her hard CC is very difficult to land; if it misses you're generally going to be in a great deal of trouble.|
||Janna, like Nami, can buff your poke respectably using Eye Of The Storm while also shielding you for a good amount. Again however, her own damage is extremely lacking and she has no good way to pressure your opponents. On the bright side, Janna is also pretty good at protecting you later in the game with her ultimate, CC and shield.|
||At one time Taric was considered the #1 support with Caitlyn, but after numerous nerfs his glory days are over. He still provides pretty good zoning and fighting ability in lane but his late game sucks and other supports can serve your needs better.|
||Nunu used to be absolutely ridiculous with Caitlyn but he has been nerfed a great deal since then. His Blood Boil provides her with the steroid ability that she sorely lacks, giving her a large boost to her mid and late game, but in my opinion it's not enough to make up for what he lacks in other areas.|
If your team has a jungler, you'll generally want to begin the game by protecting your team's jungle. For blue team a good spot to stand is the tri-bush next to bottom lane (this can be a dangerous spot if the enemy team has a Blitzcrank). For purple team you can stand just past the opening to your jungle near the dragon pit.
If you're on blue team and your jungler is starting with the Elder Lizard or you're on purple team and your jungler is starting with the Ancient Golem you can and should help them out a lot by assisting them with killing the buff monsters - just be careful to leave before it dies so you don't risk taking the kill or the exp.
Assuming you helped in the jungle, when you arrive in lane you should find the minions already fighting. It's very important in bot lane to make sure that you push the lane by damaging minions slightly harder than your opponent does at level 1 to ensure that you gain more experience and reach level 2 first. This gives you a window of opportunity to play aggressively and zone out your opponents since you and your support will have two abilities and better stats. If you're unable to do this and your opponents reach level 2 first you must play cautiously until you can equalize the level disadvantage.
||In general, the best strategy for farming minions is to allow them to fight until one is near death, and then pick them off with a single autoattack. This reduces how much your lane pushes, making it harder for enemies to gank and easier for allies. It also enables you to zone your opponent away from the minion waves much more easily if you get an advantage. However, another more aggressive strategy that works well with Caitlyn is to push continually up to the enemy tower by hitting minions with autoattacks or Qs - this makes it hard for your opponent to get last hits, allows you to harass them easily while they attempt to do so and puts pressure on the enemy team to respond to your push.|
Whenever there are no minions that are on low health, you can and should be taking shots at your opponents instead. Caitlyn's range is the highest in the game and you should abuse it as much as you can for free damage. If you notice that your opponent is about to try to last hit a minion, hit him with an autoattack or two and consider following up with a Peacemaker. In general you should try to establish your dominance and make them afraid to even come close to the minions. Be careful not to do this too much right away, since enemy minions hurt a lot at early levels.
If there's a fight at any point, make sure to kite by moving around in between shots. If you don't issue a move order Caitlyn will simply stand there doing nothing in between autoattacks, which is wasteful and can be dangerous or cost you kills. Always hit the biggest threat to you, which is most likely going to be the AD carry. If you're able to get kills on your opponents, push the minions up to the enemy tower by autoattacking as fast as you can and return to base to buy items. Pushing the minions in this way means that your minion waves will hit the enemy tower and die on it before anyone can arrive, giving no experience or gold to the enemy team.
Hopefully you are winning your lane. If you feel like you're ahead, you should attempt to place three traps across the lane and stand on the minions or even between the minions and your opponents. This forces them to navigate your traps and take free damage every time they attempt to get close to the farm. If someone walks into a trap, you have a free hit with Piltover Peacemaker and several autoattacks. If you're significantly ahead or some members of the enemy team are dead and your Jungler is nearby, you should attempt Dragon for a big global gold and experience bonus for your team.
Example of how to zone with traps:
If you should fall behind and no longer feel safe to zone and harass, just try to pick up as many last hits as you can without getting into danger and hope your team assists you. As long as you're careful to keep up your cs you can still get yourself back into the game later on. One last thing to remember is to check items. Items like Vampiric Scepter and B. F. Sword make a great deal of difference to the lane and knowing which areas you're stronger and weaker in compared to your opposite is important.
||This is probably the most 'vague' section of the game and the part that people understand the least. Mid game generally begins as soon as towers start to be destroyed around the map. It is the part of the game where people begin to roam to other lanes and move around in groups to make things happen. It's not uncommon at this stage of the game for a team to attempt Dragon or begin ganking lanes with 4 or even 5 people which makes it somewhat unsafe to continue laning in the river area, especially if your tower is already dead.|
This is also the stage in the game where Caitlyn is usually weakest. Skirmishes begin to happen more regularly here and as I mentioned Caitlyn is quite weak in direct fights. Without items your autoattacks don't deal very much damage and your skills are not very effective at DPS. You have a few options here depending on how well you're doing.
You can always:
- Destroy the enemy bot lane tower.
- Roam, try to get an advantage by picking up Dragons, kills and the mid lane tower. Bear in mind the enemy bot lane can farm freely while you're gone.
- Take a jungle camp. This is a little easier for blue team because minigolems are much closer to the lane than wolves.
If you're ahead you can:
- Stay in bot lane and keep zoning and freezing the lane. Bear in mind the enemy bot lane may roam.
- Stay in bot lane and push like crazy. This will put pressure on the enemy team and force more people to come to bot lane.
If you're behind you can:
- Freeze the lane by tanking minions before they hit your second tower and only last hitting them. Done properly, this causes the minion waves to stay on your side of the map for a very long time and is by far the best way to catch up when you're behind in cs. However, your opponents are free to roam to Dragon and mid lane and your team may have difficulty without you.
Even if there's a lot of action around the map, try to keep an eye on your own lane and return periodically to farm up the gathered minion waves. Keeping up in farm whilst controlling objectives and assisting your team is difficult but very important to the role of AD carry.
I define late game as the point in the game where it becomes extremely unsafe to be moving around without your team and getting caught or losing a teamfight will result in immediately losing Baron, Inhibitors or even the game. Generally at this stage of the game AD carries will have completed most of their core items (in this case BT + PD + LW) and will be doing a lot of damage. Do not stay in a lane alone for any longer than necessary or you could find yourself getting caught or the enemy team rushing a Baron. Stick with your team as much as possible.
Teamfighting as Caitlyn
Your role in teamfights in fairly simple in theory - deal as much damage as you possibly can.
The most important skill to work on when playing an AD carry is positioning and kiting. This means ensuring that you are never in a position where the enemy team can stun and immediately kill you. Stay as far back as possible and target the enemies that are most threatening to you. It's likely that at least one of the enemy team's tanks/offtanks/assassins will try to get to you and either kill you or force you out of the fight. Don't panic and move backwards in between shots. Remember that you have 90 Caliber Net, Barrier and Flash and be ready to use them when necessary to gain more time and distance.
You may encounter people who tell you to focus carries and ignore tanks. These people do not understand how to play AD carry. It's very rare that you'll get an opportunity to properly focus an enemy carry and when you do it's usually because they made a big mistake. 90% of the time you'll be forced to target tanks before you can break through to the enemy back line. This is one of the main reasons why you buy Last Whisper.
Above all, staying alive is the most important objective. Without your damage your team will lose the fight and you don't do any damage when you're dead. When in doubt, just attack the closest enemy.
Thanks for reading!
If you have comments, suggestions or questions please feel free to post here or send me a private message. I will read everything and reply to questions and criticism.
Special thanks go to the lovely MissMaw who did virtually all the coding and pictures. Without her, this guide would look like poop.