Caitlyn Build Guide by Jebus McAzn
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This guide will cover many aspects of Caitlyn. The first part will cover her strengths, abilities, and the proper runes/masteries/skill order/item build to take on her. The second section will discuss how to play Caitlyn in top lane, mid lane, bot lane,
Flash should almost always be carried. Ghost if you're up against enemies you need to escape from quickly, Exhaust or Ignite if you're looking to pick up an early kill. Up to preference.
-Greater Mark of DesolationArmor pen marks and attack damage quints, to maximize damage early on.
-Either mana regen seals or armor seals - up to preference and also who you're up against in lane. In a solo lane the mana regen seals are typically better while you want the armor in a duo lane against another AD+support.
- Flat magic resist glyphs. If you know you're not laning against a mage, or if you're duo laning, use scaling magic resist.
-You pretty much always want to go 21/0/9 to press your early game advantage as much as possible. 15/0/15 or some variant is viable but not recommended.
-Always take your Yordle Snap Trap first, to scout out level 1 fights and to secure a lane advantage before the creep wave even gets there.
-From then on max R > Q > W > E.
-Start with Boots of Speed and 3 pots if you're in a solo lane, Doran's Blade if you're in a side lane with a support who can babysit you.
-Buy a total of 2-3 Doran's Blades based on how much you need the health.
-If you can afford it on your first trip back, buy B. F. Sword.
-If not, buy Zeal or upgrade your boots.
-Buy Berserker's Greaves if you want to push that early game advantage against a lane which doesn't have much CC.
-Buy Mercury's Treads if you need that defense against CC early on (against a Twisted Fate, for example).
-Your core build is:
With boots of your choice. Please note that you should generally sell your Berserker's Greaves in exchange for Mercury's Treads by the time you get your Phantom Dancer.
-An alternative build that goes for early-mid game dominance, but tapers off late-game:
Caitlyn is a hyper-aggressive, powerful early game ranged carry who is capable of picking up kills at all phases of the game and forcing enemies out of lane incredibly early. She's very diverse in her roles, as she can be in any of the three lanes.
This guide will be covering all three roles but will always capitalize on her strong early-game, transitioning into a powerful ranged DPS mid-game and a decent late-game.
-Powerful zone control with your traps in lane or while pushing a tower
-Ability to spot ganks before they hit you because of your traps
- 90 Caliber Net is an easy blink to evade ganks or push yourself closer to an enemy
-Extremely easy to last hit because of your good attack animation, long range, and long-range abilities
Yordle Snap Trap is unreliable at best during
a team fight and 90 Caliber Net should always be used for positioning and escape, never solely as a snare.
-Slightly tapers off late-game due to that lack of utility that
many other carries have - HOWEVER, she isn't a weak late-game carry. People simply build her wrong, and that's where that myth comes from.
-Long casting animations on almost all her skills make her easy to predict and also easy to instantly kill as a burst caster
before she can do anything.
I pick up my Yordle Snap Trap at level 1 because it's strong for level 1 fights and for zoning the enemy. After that you'll want to max your Q, since it's your primary damage ability, then your W, for raw damage, then E, obviously grabbing your ultimate whenever possible.
Headshot is Caitlyn's passive. It's a great tool in lane for harassing, poking, and last hitting early game. Every 8/7/6 attacks, your next attack will be stronger - an extra 50% damage against enemy champs and an extra 150% damage against minions. Since you should always be trying to last hit every minion you can, never waste 3 or 4 minions just to try and get a Headshot proc onto the enemy champion. However, you can zone them out just because you have Headshot ready. Later on, use it to secure buffs quickly and just to increase total DPS.
Piltover Peacemaker is Caitlyn's Q and it's your primary offensive ability. When you activate it, you shoot a skillshot of pretty decent width in a straight line for about 1000 distance.
You should NEVER, EVER SPAM THIS SKILL. Caitlyn's mana pool is terrible. By spamming your Q, you're only pushing the lane and probably laning about 30% of the Qs you shoot anyway. There are three scenarios when you should be using your Q early on:
1. You're ganking or somehow trying to kill the enemy and want as much damage as possible
2. Your minion wave is pushed to their tower and you're trying to zone them out of last hits or harass them while they last hit
3. Your enemy just stepped on a trap and is an easy target for your Q
Because of its 1 second channel time, Q is easy to dodge and will probably not hit the enemy unless it's in one of the three scenarios, where they're not thinking as straight and will have a MUCH harder time dodging it. Other than that, use this skill to farm and to push waves of minions.
Yordle Snap Trap is Caitlyn's W. You should almost always get your Trap as your first skill, to establish what I call the "trap line" in your lane, OR to prepare against an enemy jungle invasion.
The mark of a good Caitlyn player is how she uses her traps. If she's using them at level 1 to spot for ganks in lane, she's playing passively and thinking passively. If she's using them to create a line in the middle of the lane that you can't cross and is zoning you out of XP, she's thinking aggressively and wants to kill you.
You need to be very aggressive with your traps early on to gain a lane advantage. The exception is if the enemy has a powerful jungler that can gank you early, and your traps are better used to spot and stop these ganks.
90 Caliber Net is your E skill. When used, it pushes you back a certain distance (across some terrain, if you're positioned that way) and shoots a net out that deals magic damage and slows an enemy. Rarely, if ever, will you be using this skill for the damage or the slow. The blink is the essential part - it lets you escape ganks, as well as tossing you through walls, over gaps, or toward your enemy.
With your net, you should almost never die to a jungle gank, unless you've screwed up. Mid and late game, use it for positioning and for hopping over walls to chase or to run.
Ace in the Hole is Caitlyn's ultimate, and her signature ability. It's a long range sniper shot that never misses but can be blocked by another enemy champion, making it a pain to fire in a team fight. In lane, it's strong not only for finishing, but for harassing as well.
Don't think your ultimate is a treasure that you have to keep to get kills. At rank 1 it's only on a 90 second cooldown. As soon as you hit six, ult the enemy. You've brought them down a big chunk of health, and you probably weren't going to kill them in the next 90 seconds anyway, so why not get all the harass in you can?
Greater Mark of Desolation
Greater Mark of Desolation
Greater Seal of Clarity
Greater Seal of Replenishment
Greater Seal of Alacrity
Greater Glyph of Warding/Shielding
Greater Quintessence of Strength
Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
|I run full armor pen marks to increase my damage against squishy characters and all characters in general. Armor penetration is a no-brainer on most AD carries. Never take any other Mark on her.
Since Caitlyn doesn't buy any mana or mana regen items, you may also find yourself mana-hungry late game. Since you can't really afford to take blue buff (your AP carry should always have it), you may find scaling MP5 to be just as good late-game while sacrificing only a little early game. You'll have to be smarter about when you use your abilities early on but it will pay off later.
Another great option is to run armor seals in order to achieve dominance, especially in a duo bottom lane against another AD+support. Since the majority of the harass in a lane like that is physical, especially when facing Vayne, Ashe, or other Caitlyn, armor seals serve to mitigate a large portion of that.
This gives a noticeable boost to your attack speed early on and is primarily for people who want to prioritize autoattack harass as much as possible. The attack speed helps when last hitting, as you can get two in quick succession that you may have missed otherwise. By running AS Seals, you're going to have to be much more frugal about spamming your abilities all game, because you WILL run out of mana if you're not careful.
The glyphs of choice for most squishy characters. With the current metagame being AP carry mid and support+AD bottom, if you go mid, you'll often find yourself against a lot of magic damage. Magic resist glyphs go a LONG way to keeping you alive and will greatly increase your chances of winning a lane against Annie, Orianna, Anivia, Swain, and other strong mages. On the other hand, if you go bottom, you'll want the scaling MR to defend better against the enemy AD.
Simply put, you want to maximize your early game damage as much as possible. Attack damage quintessences combined with armor penetration marks are the best way to accomplish this on Caitlyn. Also viable (but not as effective) is attack damage marks+armor pen quints, full attack damage marks/quints, or just full armor pen marks/quints.
Health seems quite obvious, ESPECIALLY if you don't start with a Doran's Blade. With a boots+3 potions start, health quints give you more to work with and let you lane more aggressively without fear of being killed as quickly.
I run a 21/0/9 mastery build to capitalize on Caitlyn's amazing early game. You benefit from most masteries in the tree.
Overall 21/0/9 is the strongest. Unlike Corki, you don't grab a lot of mana items so 21/9/0 is possible but not very strong, and unlike Ashe, you really need the early game advantage so you can't afford to go 15/0/15 (although it's POSSIBLE).
Tier 1 - Obviously, take Deadliness over Archmage's Savvy because you're an AD champion. Take Cripple for improved Exhaust.
Tier 2 - You'll want Sorcery for the CDR, which is universally useful, and Alacrity for the AS.
Tier 3 - Archaic Knowledge is a little debatable but your traps do some pretty significant damage and should not be neglected. Sunder adds some significant impact to your attacks.
Tier 4 - Take Brute Force to make you hit even harder.
Tier 5 - Lethality will help you later on and is a decent boost to DPS.
Tier 6 - Havoc is what we came here for. There was a change to Havoc that now makes it affect total damage, not just base, so it's a very good mastery to have.
Tier 1 - Good Hands is stronger than Perseverance. If you don't know why, there are a ton of threads on LoL forums everywhere explaining why. Take Haste if you're using Ghost.
Tier 2 - Awareness is very strong on any champion as it lets you stay on par with enemies and not fall dangerously underleveled. Besides, Expanded Mind is a terrible mastery on any champion, most of all someone like Caitlyn.
Tier 3 - Utility Mastery is the best choice here, to make your red buffs last as long as possible.
Summoner Spell Explanations
Flash is a must nowadays. Literally everyone takes Flash now, as it lets you do some crazy juking and escape/chase maneuvers, especially with walls. With your 90 Caliber Net, you have a mini-blink already. However, Flash is much faster, and with everyone else in the game basically taking Flash already, you're going to need it if you want to have any hope of being able to out-position them. It's great in team fights, it's great in lane - it's excellent everywhere.
Ghost remains a solid choice on many ranged AD carries. A few months ago, Ghost+Flash was absolutely necessary on every ranged carry in the game: Ashe, Kog'Maw, Miss Fortune, Corki, et cetera - all because it was an excellent escape spell. It still is, and Ghost gives you not only the movespeed you want to evade a gank, but also the ability to kite in a team fight or to chase your enemy down in lane to get off one last attack or Piltover Peacemaker to get a kill.
Exhaust is another interesting option. Remember when I said "A few months ago" when I was describing the Ghost+Flash "metagame"? Now you see Exhaust+ Flash becoming very popular on a lot of carries. This is because Exhaust can be just as useful as Ghost when you're escaping a gank, and is MUCH more useful in lane to cripple your enemy when he/she tries to kill you, or when you're trying to kill them. It is a very powerful spell now, affecting AD and AP carries alike, and Flash+ Exhaust is very viable on Caitlyn.
Ignite is your last choice, meant to maximize your burst damage as much as possible. Consider the scenario where an enemy's at about 60% life and gets caught in your trap. You autoattack, Piltover Peacemaker, autoattack, Ignite, and get in maybe 1 more autoattack before ulting them. They're probably dead. Ignite can make Caitlyn dish out some SCARY burst damage early game.
Boots of Speed + 3 Health Potions
In a solo lane, you're going to want to start with Boots of Speed and 3 Health Potions. This will let you play extremely aggressively, using your mobility to get free shots on the enemy while abusing your range. The three health potions serve to let you survive harass exchanges and come out ahead because of the extra health.
In a duo lane, using a Doran's Blade to start is more typical. A support will be able to heal you in a duo lane meaning that you can use the Doran's Blade to push for more damage and farm harder while you don't have to worry about recovering from harass. Your support should take care of that for you.
Early Game Core Items
2 (or 3) Doran's Blades
+ Upgraded Boots
By the time you hit around the 8 minute mark, you're aiming to get 2 Doran's Blades and Boots regardless of what lane you're in. The blades give you a lot of extra health and let you survive the lane, as well as some decent damage. Boots are obviously a must. Choice of boots will be covered in a later section, but you typically want either Berserker's Greaves or Mercury's Treads.
B.F. Sword + Boots of Speed
On your first trip back, if you can afford a B. F. Sword, feel free to immediately buy it to gain a huge edge in damage and last hitting. Caitlyn benefits greatly from raw AD so this is never a bad option - unless you're badly losing your lane. If you started with a Doran's Blade, the same rule applies - if you can afford BF, buy it.
Zeal + Boots of Speed
If you happen to not have enough money for a B.F. Sword, go ahead and pick up a Zeal. The mobility and attack speed both help excellently in lane. It's hard to describe when you want this and at what time, but generally this should accompany 1 or 2 early Doran's Blades for some nice DPS.
Mercury's Treads vs. Berserker's Greaves
This is a short chapter designed to help you decide which boots you need to take.
To put it squarely: Berserker's Greaves are amazing. They effectively give you 25% more DPS early on, while making you slightly more mobile and help you with last hitting. Optimally, you'll be buying these every game early on since they give you a huge boost to your DPS.
However, in many cases, it may be more desirable to buy Mercury's Treads instead. I would buy Merc Treads against very CC-heavy enemy lanes, or against CC-heavy teams in general. The following champions should be a signal to consider buying Merc Treads:
There are obviously many champions in the League that can CC you, but the last four are the most prominent ones because of how MUCH CC they carry and how essential it is to break out of them. Ashe and Taric are separated from the rest because they're enemies you're likely to come up against while duo laning bottom.
If you're winning your lane, you may opt to buy Berserker's Greaves even if facing a CC-heavy enemy team.
9 times out of 10, you should be selling your Berserker's Greaves late-game for Merc Treads just for the safety of the tenacity to fall back on.
Early Game Playstyle - Solo Laning
In any case, you're going to want to gather by your jungler to offer him protection in case the enemy decides to invade. Yordle Snap Traps can give you advance warning as to whether enemies are coming or not, and can give you an advantage in a level 1 fight.
Once arriving to lane, place your traps in a line near the middle of the lane, slightly more toward their side so they have trouble running around. Use this positioning to your advantage and force them to miss last hits. Harass them whenever you can - get free shots off and abuse your long range. Your early game damage is quite huge.
If an enemy hits a trap, punish them for it. Try to get in an autoattack, then hit them with Piltover Peacemaker. Focus on last hitting, but also try to zone the enemy out of last hitting and if possible, experience.
Early Game Playstyle - Duo Laning
In a duo lane, your best friend is your support. Caitlyn does best paired with a support that can heal her, so she can start with a Doran's Blade and be able to aggressively harass while healing up any harass she takes in return. With her range and raw power, a good Caitlyn can farm bottom while winning the lane hard.
Traps should still be used, but more defensively. Trap the brush leading to bottom lane, as well as the triangle brush above Blue team's outer turret in order to spot incoming jungle ganks. Other than that, you can use your traps to prevent the enemy support/carry from hiding in the bottom lane brush to zone you.
Bottom lane is about farm, farm, farm, and that's one of the things that Caitlyn does best.
The supports you're best paired with:
In that order. Your Yordle Snap Traps remain incredibly deadly tools and combined with the stun from Taric or Alistar, you can burst enemies for huge portions of their health at a time.
Core Offensive Items
Infinity Edge is by far the best attacking option for Caitlyn in the long run. It boosts your DPS by more than any other item does and lets you hit like a truck. Optimally, you'll be rushing this item.
Getting a Phantom Dancer boosts your mobility by quite a lot and provides you with the attack speed you need to hit hard and hit often. With the critical chance from this item, combined with the passive on Infinity Edge, Phantom Dancer is the best attack speed option for Caitlyn.
Bloodthirster is a great option on Caitlyn as the lifesteal lets you regenerate health after a fight, or survive poke wars before one. Fully farmed, it provides more raw attack damage than any other item, letting your Q and R hit much harder.
This is your armor penetration item, and it's excellent at what it does. Percentage armor penetration shreds tanks and squishies alike. You want this over The Black Cleaver because your abilities are physical based and you want as much armor penetration on them as well, since you can't always afford to land autoattacks on every target you mean to hit with an ability. Overall the stats on this item are excellent.
Optional Offensive Items
If the enemy team is fond of using the Warmog's Armor+ Atma's Impaler combo, colloquially known as "Atmog's", the Bloodrazor serves as an effective counter, giving you a nice boost to needed stats as well as a useful health-shredding tool. Consider this item as well to better combat a Cho'Gath who has neglected to build up MR.
Team SoloMid proved handily during IEM that Wriggle's Lantern is a fantastic item. THe armor and lifesteal help you sustain yourself in lane while the extra damage and minion proc let you push faster as well as offering early dragon and baron control. The most attractive feature is definitely the free ward, however.
The Black Cleaver
Enemies not getting armor to counter you? Buy this item and you'll shred through what little armor they do have in no time. While Cleaver generally isn't desirable on Caitlyn because her abilities are more useful with Last Whisper's immediate penetration, Cleaver is effective when enemies neglect to build up enough armor to make Last Whisper effective.
Wit's End is a highly underrated item. Need some fast MR? This item gives you up to 50 MR during a fight and helps you hit faster. While not a substitute for Phantom Dancer by any means, it does offer you some protection from enemy mages, especially if you feel that you need more damage and a Banshee's Veil would be too out of the way.
The Bloodthirster vs. Infinity Edge
There's a lot of debate about these two items when there really shouldn't be. "Which one is better?"
Neither. It's situational, as most things in this game are.
Infinity Edge, gold for gold and point for point, gives you more damage per second than any other item in the game. This extra DPS only grows higher as you get more critical chance and attack damage, simply because of its passive. You should be aiming to buy this item every game.
But should you always rush it? No.
The Bloodthirster has a niche role in being a powerful early game offensive item that also offers quite a bit of lifesteal. Caitlyn doesn't have any problem farming, so it's not hard to get to 40 stacks. The thing that BT excels at is keeping your health high at all times, meaning that you can win poke fights because of your lifesteal, and you can in turn poke harder, since it provides the single highest base AD of any item in the game.
The Bloodthirster is also substantially cheaper, letting you press an early game advantage when the enemy AD carry isn't completely pimped out yet.
The thing about Infinity Edge is that it works best in tandem with your other core items, so BT will make you stronger early on and also lets you heal up in the absence of a healing support.
Rush The Bloodthirster if:
-Your team doesn't have a support character who can heal well.
-You want to press an extremely powerful early game advantage.
-You have an extremely poke-heavy, early-game strong composition (consider champions like Nidalee who become extremely powerful at 18 minutes once she gets her Deathcap).
-The enemy team contains champions who are prone to towerdive you early on, so the lifesteal helps you survive under tower.
Rush Infinity Edge in all other scenarios.
With the ability to mitigate important initiation abilities, Banshee's Veil is very effective at stopping mages from instantly destroying you, both with its protective bubble an its substantial magic resist and health. Mana doesn't hurt either. BV remains an amazing defensive core item on any character.
GA provides enemies with another barrier to get over. Get caught in the enemy base? ALl your abilities on CD? You happen to die, but you respawn just in time for your 90 Caliber Net to recharge, letting you vault over the wall and run to safety. The armor and MR is very nice as well.
A ranged carry's most important resource is her positioning. You have massive range, so make use of it. Stay in the back and unload as much hurt as possible as long as you're protected well by your teammates. Be very wary of burst assassins that can jump on you and kill you, such as Akali, Talon, Irelia, and LeBlanc.
A good tank or offtank is of paramount importance to a team composition. Champions like Amumu or Leona who can keep enemies stun-locked or otherwise unable to hurt you are your best friends.
Do NOT be afraid to hit the enemy tank. He has to die at some point. Often times, the enemy tank will lead the charge, thinking that he/she is invincible. While most people say to "never focus the tank", it doesn't mean you shouldn't poke them.
With a Last Whisper and the rest of your offensive arsenal in hand, a couple of shots can take a substantial amount of health off a tank before an engagement. If they're the only target in range, take as many potshots as you can.
One of Caitlyn's strongest abilities in a team fight is her ability to poke. Her Piltover Peacemaker can inflict heavy damage on an enemy team before an engagement, her autoattacks can hit people under tower while she darts back safely out of range, and even her Ace in the Hole can be used on a squishy before a team fight to get them low.
Overall the most important thing is to have good positioning, and to use 90 Caliber Net and Flash to escape if you have to. Exhaust their carry, lay traps whenever possible, and rip apart everything in your path.
This portion of the guide will not go over who to focus and in what order. That should be elementary knowledge. Always, always, always remember your positioning - and that goes for any AD carry.
Ace in the Hole - When and How
A lot of people have misconceptions about an ultimate. They think that it has to be used as a cool finisher, or it can only be used when you're going for a kill. Not at all true.
Let's take Miss Fortune as an example. Her ultimate doesn't do much at rank 1. While it's possible to secure a kill with it, it is much more likely that your autoattacks combined with your abilities will be what's responsible for the kill. So most high-ELO players will use Bullet Time to farm a wave of creeps before recalling. Why not use your ultimate for that if you're not going to use it anywhere else anytime soon?
Similarly, Caitlyn's Ace in the Hole is usually overvalued by many new players. Odds are that you'll get more damage off with 3 or 4 autoattacks than you would with your ultimate. So why not use it to harass? As soon as you hit 6, shoot it at them, and it'll deal some decent damage. You can do that every time it comes off cooldown and you'll soon have a pressing lane advantage.
Once you hit level 11, however, this doesn't apply. Your ultimate's damage shoots up from 250 to 425 - almost doubling. It can actually DO a lot at this point, and odds are that fights have broken out already and the early game is long over.
In a team fight you again need to consider your positioning. Don't shoot your ultimate at a low-health Kassadin running away if their Rammus is literally directly between you two. Don't use it on a Vladimir if he hasn't pooled in a while. Remember to keep an eye on cooldowns, but again, positioning, positioning, POSITIONING!
Shurelia's Zoning Tutorial
Icsullla's Zoning and XP Denial Tutorial
Icsullla Full Game
HotshotGG Full Game #1
The next parts can be found on YouTube
HotshotGG Full Game #2
HotshotGG Full Game #3
(Excellent use of early game zoning power)
Chaox Commentary 1
Chaox Commentary 2
Westrice Commentary 1
CLG vs. LLL EMS Group A
(Excellent use of Caitlyn trap zoning at 37:40)
Summary and Conclusion
-Use your range to your advantage. Poke hard early game to win your lane.
-Aggressively place traps to limit your enemies' movement, or to spot for ganks.
-You can use your 90 Caliber Net to offensively push toward the enemy to get more attacks off, or to push yourself backwards to flee a gank or just get out of combat quickly.
-Armor penetration is your friend. The two-item core of Phantom Dancer and Last Whisper combined with either The Bloodthirster or Infinity Edge will send your damage through the roof.
This guide is a bit briefer than some of my other works. I have decided to emphasize conciseness and build quality over extensive usage of illustrative videos and images, although rest assured that I will be adding more as time comes.
Overall I hope that this guide has helped you improve your playstyle with one of the strongest, most aggressive champions in the League.
-Updated "quick reference"
-Moved Phantom Dancer before Banshee's Veil.
-Added "Optional Offensive Items"
-Updated the list of best supports to work with
-Changed glyphs on the second build from flat MR to scaling MR