Not Updated For Current Season
Pros / Cons
Has good escaping and chasing skill (mobility)
High AP burst damage and decent AD with fast auto-attack capability
High armor penetration
Silence and slow
Moderately easy farming
Mana issues (sometimes)
Hard early and late game (but is a great carry when done properly)
NOT newbie friendly
Just so you know this is my first time making a guide so please be gentle when making criticisms. By gentle I mean direct to the point and blunt but with no insults whatsoever.
I have no guarantee that this is the best way to use Kassadin in a DPS build nor do I say that this is the best way for Kassadin to go overall. I believe that AP Kassadin is a lot more easier to play and is also a great AP burst damage champion but I like playing him the way Riot seemingly intended him to be used. A hybrid that utilizes both his great scaling AP skills with low cooldowns and his ultimately neglected feature, which is his great armor penetration capability.
Pick Kassadin for DPS if there is already an AP burst character on your team ( Annie, Fiddlesticks) and maybe if you're lacking a ganker or carry. Otherwise just go for AP Kassadin.
Just remember that you are required to have good last hitting skill, GREAT map awareness, and decent teammates. This Kassadin build is by no means a walk in the park. Far from it in fact. I must warn you that this build takes a lot of patience and practice as it can net a lot of kills and produce great amounts of damage at the cost of being very vulnerable and hard to manage at late game. You'll understand if you read the whole guide.
Greater Mark of Desolation Greater Mark of Desolation - Okay. Obviously armor penetration runes are taken to amplify your already great armor piercing skill Nether Blade. This build is all about maxing out Kassadin's potential to bypass armor and deal huge amounts of damage despite not relying on crits.
Greater Seal of Evasion - These are taken to increase Kassadin's survivability against physical AD attacks. It's his main weakness as Kassadin has low armor and relies on his Riftwalk ability to avoid enemy attacks. No worries on AP burst damage since Void Stone absorbs 15% of incoming magic damage which can also be improved by wearing Banshee's Veil.
Greater Glyph of Celerity - Why Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction you ask and not Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction? This is due to the fact that a DPS hybrid Kassadin build does not fully rely on his AP skills alone. During early or mid game it's enough to have moderate cooldown reduction with your already fast cooldown skills as you'll be auto-attacking as well. At late game, where everything turns hell for Kassadin (but in a good way). This is when you'll be needing extra fast cooldowns as you'll be utilizing Kassadin's skills a lot at a faster pace for both dishing out damage and also escaping. Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction actually gives more CDR than Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction at late game and this is actually when his fast Riftwalking and Force Pulse spamming capabilities are a must.
Greater Quintessence of Desolation Greater Quintessence of Desolation - The same reason for using Greater Mark of Desolation runes. To improve Kassadin's already great armor penetration capability.
21-9-0 or 11-19-0 Mastery Trees? There are two ways to play this build. First is the offensive one, or as I call it: The Risky and Fun Way. The second is the careful way, or as I call it: The Careful Way. O_o Redundancy FTW!
Clarity - This is the core summoner spell for this style of Kassadin. This spell will function as your farming tool early game, ganking tool at mid game, and your escape mechanism at late game. You don't have Archangel's Staff in this build so you'll be having a lot of mana issues without Clarity. You're still expected to spam your skills and Riftwalk along with auto-attacking so you'll still be using a lot of mana just as if this were an AP Kassadin build.
Exhaust - Kassadin is already a good chaser. Why waste a spell slot for this? The reason is simple. This isn't an AP build. You'll be whacking your target with your lightsaber ( Nether Blade?) 50% of the time. You need your prey to stay put as you won't primarily just AP burst damage the hell out of it. You'll be dancing around a lot using both your skills and auto-attacking. Remember, this Kassadin build is a hybrid.
Cleanse - Many guides point this out as one of the best summoner spells for Kassadin. The reason is that Kassadin is squishy as hell when disabled by CC skills. This play style is no exemption. Despite having both spell-vamp and lifesteal, this Kassadin build is still very vulnerable to disables and focused fire.
Ghost - This spell is just not worth it. Kassadin already has insane mobility so the movement speed he gets from Berserker's Greaves and Lich Bane or Trinity Force is more than enough coupled with his Riftwalk.
Ignite - I actually like this spell. However, since one summoner spell slot is already taken by Clarity that only leaves you with another one. It's better if you use it for scaling spells such as Exhaust and Cleanse as you can use them during the whole duration of the game rather than have Ignite which for me is only effective at early game. (First blood anyone?)
Heal - This spell sucks. It doesn't scale well into late game, it doesn't do anything except lengthen the time till your champion dies, and it can't be used at critical moments such as when under the effects of CC. I don't use this for any of my champions. Especially not for Kassadin
Teleport - Teleport is a must for champions who can clear out minion waves in seconds. Kassadin is one of those heroes. However, Kassadin has better use for spells such as Exhaust and Cleanse also Kassadin will be clearing the jungle (especially for runes) so Teleport isn't that necessary.
Smite - This spell is usually used by early game junglers such as Shaco and Udyr so it's not much use for Kassadin since he'll only be able to jungle during mid game.
Fortify - Fortify is a support champion's spell. 'Nuff said.
Flash - Some guides for Kassadin suggest Flash for the "double blink" benefits. Personally I don't think Kassadin needs another mobility spell since Riftwalk has a pretty darn fast cooldown already. If you think Flash is worth taking more than Cleanse or that Clarity in this build is not needed then expect to die a lot during your matches.
Rally - Again. Another support champion's spell. It may sound good with it's extra AD and AP boost but remember that this Kassadin build dances around the field of battle a lot. So I doubt Kassadin will be within Rally's beacon AOE most of the time.
Revive - This build is a lot harder to use than the more common AP build Kassadin therefore it's also safe to say that this build will merit more deaths. However, the focus of practicing a champion and using any build is that so you'll get better at playing and do less of dying. So the answer to whether one should take this skill or not is no.
Clairvoyance - I like this spell as well. If you're good at fully utilizing the effectiveness of this spell then this might actually be viable for Kassadin. You can use it to scout rune minions on the enemy team. Use it to get ready for a Baron Nashor or Dragon hunting. And also to scout for potential lanes. However, for most players it's better if they just use, again, either Exhaust or Cleanse as their secondary summoner spell.
1. Null Sphere
2. Force Pulse
3. Force Pulse
4. Nether Blade
5. Force Pulse
7. Force Pulse
8. Nether Blade
9. Force Pulse
10. Nether Blade
12. Nether Blade
13. Nether Blade
14. Null Sphere
15. Null Sphere
17. Null Sphere
18. Null Sphere
Null Sphere is taken first as it will be your primary last hitting skill at early game. If you're having an easy time laning with just your auto-attack then by all means use Null Sphere to harass the opposing laning champion.
Force Pulse is taken next with the intention of maxing it out first as this will be your most abused skill aside from Riftwalk. You'll be using it to clear out enemy minion waves, for easy jungling, and as your main AP burst damage source when ganking. Force Pulse has great AOE and great base and scaling magic damage AND it has a low cooldown. During ganks gaining charges won't be a problem as your enemies and teammates will be using their skills and you'll be utilizing Nether Blade a lot as well.
Nether Blade is taken immediately at level four as Kassadin will need this both for regaining mana and a possible early game kill. If you have a decent support and your opposing lane champion is a little bit too aggressive then Nether Blade can actually guarantee you a kill. It can help charge up your Force Pulse and at this stage, coupled with your armor penetration runes, an activated Nether Blade will cut through any champion's armor and hurt them as if Kassadin's auto-attacks were dealing true damage. After you take Riftwalk at level six Nether Blade is maxed out second after Force Pulse as this Kassadin build will be dealing equal amounts of AD and AP damage by utilizing Riftwalk and both Force Pulse and auto-attack. Null Sphere will just be your silencing skill and only at one second for now.
Riftwalk is taken at level six and at all possible levels, namely levels eleven and sixteen. This is because Riftwalk will be used to have that extra burst AP damage along with Force Pulse. This can also charge up your Force Pulse and strengthen your next auto-attack because of either Trinity Force/ Sheen or Lich Bane. Kassadin will be Riftwalking on his opponent's face a lot as well as blasting him with Force Pulse while whacking him with Kassadin's purple glowstick.
Just a tip. Remember that Riftwalk's damage increases with each successive use so coupled with Clarity you can actually deal almost the same amount of damage with it as DPS Kassadin's AP counterpart. Add that to your armor penetrating physical attacks and your frequent Force Pulse blasting DPS hybrid Kassadin can take down the most hardiest of tanks whether they stack up on either armor or magic defense or even both. This is actually the advantage of this build as a pure DPS Kassadin is weak against high armor champion builds ( Rammus, Malphite) and a pure AP burst Kassadin is weak against those champions who stack up on magic defense ( Galio, Mordekaiser). The only important thing is that you have fast enough reflexes to maximize skill usage and auto-attacking at the same time. This is what's harder for this build as compared to the other two Kassadin builds as you'll only need to either focus on right-clicking the correct target or spamming your skills.
Finally Null Sphere is maxed out at the last stages being leveled up again only at fourteen and to reach level five at champion level eighteen, Riftwalk being taken again at level sixteen. The reason for this is that Null Sphere has a nine second cooldown so you won't be able to spam it as much as Force Pulse and Riftwalk. Also Force Pulse has 0.8 ratio for AP and is an AOE skill while Null Sphere only has a 0.7 ratio, higher mana cost after lever one, and can only target a single unit. The silence is not very good (2.6sec at max) as you'll mostly be participating in ganks rather than individual hunting so better focus on dealing as much damage to as many units as possible rather than trying to silence your targets. Even on solo hunting it's better to Riftwalk in on your unsuspecting victim followed by a Force Pulse and a Sheen/ Lich Bane/ Trinity Force+ Nether Blade augmented attack would yield higher damage and cost less mana than if you started with Null Sphere at a high level followed by a max level Force Pulse then a low level Nether Blade augmented attack. Null Sphere in a DPS Kassadin should be the last priority since this build already has concerns with mana and would yield better damage since armor reduces AD damage by percentage. If your enemy's armor is bypassed by Nether Blade and Greater Mark of Desolation runes (remember that your target champions are usually stacking low in armor) then it's actually possible to do 100% damage of an auto-attack (216AD+255AP additional damage from Lich Bane's passive=471+5% from Havoc mastery=495). An auto-attack of 500 or more is only achievable if you have Nether Blade maxed and this occurs every two seconds along with your Force Pulse blasts which is at five seconds cooldown with no CDR and Riftwalk which has four seconds at max without CDR. Null Sphere has a nine second cooldown and just 280+ max of 313 damage for this build.
Late Game Items:
or or or or or or
Early Game - First off you'll be buying an Amplifying Tome along with a single Health Potion. The Amplifying Tome is later upgraded to Sheen at level six and the Health Potion is there for more staying power during the laning phase. Try to avoid dying and just amass as much gold as you can by last hitting minions. Don't even try to jungle as Kassadin isn't meant to be a jungler at early game.
Mid Game - By level seven you should have bought at least a Boots of Speed and have upgraded your Amplifying Tome to Sheen. Kassadin is now viable to jungle but I recommend ganking with your teammates more at this stage. After possibly several successful ganks or in some cases an extended laning phase you should be able to buy Pickaxe if not straight to Guinsoo's Rageblade and are able to upgrade your Boots of Speed to Berserker's Greaves.
I didn't take Infinity Edge nor Phantom Dancer as Kassadin just doesn't benefit well with just crit. His low cooldown skills are there for a reason and with such a good scaling skill (Force Pulse has 0.8 AP scale and Null Sphere has 0.7) it's just too much not to focus more on his AP oriented side. This is why I focused more on attack speed and why I devised the combo. It's for Kassadin's ability to use his AP to his advantage even when using mainly DPS to deal out most of your damage. Yes, you actually deal more damage with your AD (albeit amplified by item passives e.g. Sheen and Trinity Force and possibly by AP e.g. Lich Bane), I've checked my matches. I honestly haven't tried using this Kassadin build in Ranked Matches, only in Normal ones, but I never said I did. However, I do well in normal matches using said build and can even manage a penta kill given the circumstances. The Bloodthirster is not viable for Kassadin since it does not take advantage of his AP damage. And B.F. Sword is just way too expensive for Kassadin to purchase Mid Game. With Hextech Gunblade you have an extra slow active skill for chasing and you get to spell-vamp with your somewhat high damaging skills. The AP+attack speed items are there for a reason. And finally, another reason I didn't use Phantom Dancer is because I don't need extra mobility. I already have that with Berserker's Greaves, Trinity Force, Riftwalk, and maybe also Lich Bane. Also just to point out why I rush Guinsoo's Rageblade, it has all that Hybrid DPS Kassadin needs. AP, AD, attack speed, and another cool sounding name. I didn't go for AP runes because what matters most is that Kassadin's abilities are there when you need them in order to spam and to charge up his melee attacks so I went for CD reduction runes. In offensive and quintessences runes I used armor penetration so as to augment his skill even more. It stacks. ^_^ Finally in defensive runes I used flat attack speed to help Kassadin regen more mana and get more hits for every 5 secs. his armor piercing skill allows.