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Kalista Build Guide by spaghalli

Top [12.17] Kalista Top Guide In-Depth

Top [12.17] Kalista Top Guide In-Depth

Updated on September 15, 2022
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League of Legends Build Guide Author spaghalli Build Guide By spaghalli 8 1 19,856 Views 2 Comments
8 1 19,856 Views 2 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author spaghalli Kalista Build Guide By spaghalli Updated on September 15, 2022
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Runes: lethal tempo & resolve

1 2 3
Precision
Lethal Tempo
Overheal
Legend: Alacrity
Coup de Grace

Resolve
Conditioning
Overgrowth
Bonus:

+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
+6 Armor

Spells:

1 2
Flash & Teleport
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash

Flash

LoL Summoner Spell: Teleport

Teleport

Threats & Synergies

Threats Synergies
Extreme Major Even Minor Tiny
Show All
None Low Ok Strong Ideal
Extreme Threats
Ideal Synergies
Synergies
Ideal Strong Ok Low None

Champion Build Guide

[12.17] Kalista Top Guide In-Depth

By spaghalli
Introduction
So, you want to play Kalista top? Cool, me too.

I love Kalista’s kit because it’s very simple but complex at the same time (if you play her, you know what I mean). She’s almost all auto attack based (right click spam), but she has a lot of mobility and kiting power that’s more mechanically difficult to pull off well. Anyone can really pick up Kalista and successfully play her, but her kit has so many nuances that will clearly differentiate a new kalista from an experienced kalista. Before you queue up with her, I highly recommend jumping into the practice tool with her just to get used to her mechanics.

Kalista is a strong duelist, along with having a lot of out-play potential, which is why she can work in the top lane. She’s definitely a fun champion to master, and it feels really good when you do. For whatever reason you want to play Kalista, I hope this guide is helpful to you in some way! Let’s get started…
Pros & Cons
PROS
-
☺︎ basically limitless mobility as long as you have something to auto attack
☺︎ ultimate lane bully
☺︎ best kiting power in the game
☺︎ high base attack speed and attack speed scaling
☺︎ can do insane damage with Rend
☺︎ high skill ceiling so it feels really good if you master her (and she looks cool)
CONS
-
☹︎ mechanically intensive (when I was first learning Kalista, I can’t tell you the amount of times I accidentally inputted the wrong movement command and Martial Poise made me dash right into the enemy team)
☹︎ ultimate depends on another ally (useless in laning if you don’t get a gank from your oathsworn)
☹︎ pretty useless when behind/ really depends on snowballing
Ability Run Down
-
-
MARTIAL POISE (PASSIVE)
RANGE: 250/265/280 (based on boots tier)
When Kalista winds up her attacks, issuing a movement command will cause her to dash in that direction after she throws. Kalista's basic attack windup is uncancellable except by casting Rend, although she can input a new attack command to change her target during the windup. Her basic attacks have no effect if she loses sight of the target at any point before it hits. Additionally, Kalista's basic attacks deal only 90% of her total attack damage.
Kalista also begins the game with Black Spear, allowing her to become oathsworn to one of her allies permanently.
✧ Kalista’s dash from Martial Poise will be knocked down by any immobilizing or polymorphing crowd control.
✧ The base distance of Martial Poise is reduced when dashing toward the direction of her attack, to a minimum of 150/165/180 (based on boots tier) units.
✧ The dash speed is affected by movement speed modifiers (like slows). However, additive movement speed modifiers do not affect it.


KALISTA PASSIVE SKILL SHOWCASE
-
-
PIERCE (Q)
RANGE: 1200
COST: 50/55/60/65/70
COOLDOWN: 8
Kalista hurls a spear, dealing 20/85/150/215/280 (+100% AD) physical damage to the first target hit. If this kills the target, the spear continues onward, carrying any Rend stacks to the next target hit.
Kalista can dash after using this ability using Martial Poise.
Pierce will cast from wherever the caster is at the end of the cast time.

KALISTA Q SKILL SHOWCASE
-
-
SENTINEL (W)
RANGE: 5000
COOLDOWN: 30
RECHARGE: 90/80/70/60/50
Passive: When Kalista and her Oathsworn both attack the same target, she deals 14/15/16/17/18% of target's max health as magic damage. This effect has a 4 second cooldown per target.
Active: Kalista sends a ghost to patrol an area for three laps. Champions spotted are revealed for 4 seconds. This ability has 2 charges.
Sentinel's sight reveal on enemy champions is accredited for assists and potentially kills (if they die shortly after being spotted).
✧ It does not reveal stealthed targets.


KALISTA W SKILL SHOWCASE
-
-
REND (E)
RANGE: 1100
COST: 30
COOLDOWN: 14/12.5/11/9.5/8
Passive: Kalista's spears linger in their target for 4 seconds, stacking any number of times.
Active: Kalista rips the spears from nearby enemies, dealing 20/30/40/50/60 (+70% AD) plus 10/16/22/28/34 (+23.2%/27.6%/31.9%/36.3%/40.6% AD) physical damage per spear beyond the first. Slows enemies hit by 10/18/26/34/42% for 2 seconds. If this ability kills at least one target, its cooldown is refreshed and it refunds 10/15/20/25/30 mana.
Rend cannot activate on untargetable enemies.
✧ The coolldown will not reset if the target is protected by resurrection effects.
✧ A stack is not applied if the attack is dodged ( Jax’s Counter Strike), blocked ( Shen’s Spirit's Refuge), or missed while blinded by Teemo’s Blinding Dart.


KALISTA E SKILL SHOWCASE
-
-
FATE’S CALL (R)
RANGE: 1200
COST: 100
COOLDOWN: 150/120/90
Kalista puts her Oathsworn into stasis and draws them to herself for up to 4 seconds. The Oathsworn can click to launch themselves, stopping at the first champion hit and knocking back all nearby enemies for (1/1.5/2 seconds). If the Oathsworn hits a champion, they are placed at their maximum attack range from it.
Fate's Call can be cast even if the Oathsworn is untargetable.
Fate's Call can be used even if the Oathsworn is in a zombie state ( Sion, Kog'Maw, and Karthus passives).
Kalista's death does not cancel Fate's Call.


KALISTA R SKILL SHOWCASE
Skill Sequence
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
E
Q
W
E
E
R
E
Q
E
Q
R
Q
Q
W
W
R
W
W
For most games, you’ll put your first point in E Rend to start stacking your spears and begin bullying your lane opponent level one. The only time you should start Q Pierce is if you need to last hit all three melee minions to get the farm. 
Your skill order will always be E > Q > W, putting a point in R at levels 6, 11, and 16.
At max rank, E will refund 100% of the mana cost (+ refresh the cooldown) if it kills a target, allowing you to spam this ability.
Into easier matchups, you can wait to put a point into W to get more damage in these earlier skirmishes. However, if you’re worried about the enemy jungler ganking, or want vision for bush control, you can put a point in W at level 3 for the Sentinel active.

Runes Explained

LETHAL TEMPO
VS

HAIL OF BLADES
You want to go Lethal Tempo against high health targets. This rune will give you the most DPS in extended fights and the extra attack range is a nice bonus as well. You can go Hail of Blades into squishier team comps when you aren’t expected to be in these longer fights. With Hail of Blades, you can 100 to 0 squishies with a few autos and Rend.
In short, Lethal Tempo is a late game rune, and you will want to take it as your keystone when the enemy team has lots of tanks or bruisers. Hail of Blades is better for the early game, and you should take it into squishy team comps. Both Lethal Tempo and Hail of Blades allows you to temporarily exceed the attack speed limit.

PRIMARY TREE: PRECISION
OVERHEAL
Overheal is a great rune for Kalista in the top lane because it can provide that extra durability you need to sustain yourself in tankier matchups.
LEGEND: ALACRITY
With Kalista, you want as much attack speed as you can get as you are extremely auto based. Legend: Alacrity will allow you to dish out more DPS and get more Rend stacks.
COUP DE GRACE
Either Coup de Grace or Cut Down works for Kalista. You’ll want to take Cut Down into tankier matchups, and Coup de Grace into all other matchups to give you more domination potential.

PRIMARY TREE: DOMINATION
SUDDEN IMPACT
Kalista’s Martial Poise gives her basically an unlimited amount of dashes, making Sudden Impact extremely easy to proc and gives a great burst of extra lethality. Taste of Blood is also a viable rune choice for extra lane sustain.
GHOST PORO
You can take either Ghost Poro or Eyeball Collection. I prefer Ghost Poro over Eyeball Collection because you are in top lane (the notorious island) and chances are you won’t have a lot of murder fiestas up there. Plus, it’s a nice reminder to ward (and ward well). Eyeball Collection is definitely the riskier choice, as it requires you to get kills to get the bonus AD.
RELENTLESS HUNTER
Relentless Hunter is really nice for roaming, and the out of combat movement speed is helpful if you didn’t take Teleport. Honestly, all of the “hunter” runes are not ideal for Kalista top lane since it requires you to roam or wait until late game to get all the stacks. However, Relentless Hunter is the best choice out of the options. Ingenious Hunter can also work if you plan to go items with cooldowns, like Immortal Shieldbow, Blade of the Ruined King, Randuin's Omen, or Guardian Angel.


If Lethal Tempo is your keystone, you can take Resolve or Sorcery as your secondary tree. Take Resolve for more sustain; take Sorcery for more damage. If Hail of Blades is your keystone, Precision is the best option for the secondary tree.

SECONDARY TREE: RESOLVE
CONDITIONING
Any of these defensive runes work, and are very dependent on lane matchups. To simplify it, take Bone Plating against bruisers/ champions that can engage on you. Take Second Wind against poke champions. Take Conditioning against tanks.
OVERGROWTH
The extra health from Overgrowth provides you with enough durability, and can sometimes give you that small bit of extra health you need to survive fights. Revitalize is also a viable option, and I take that rune whenever I plan to buy items with shields like Immortal Shieldbow or Bloodthirster.

SECONDARY TREE: SORCERY
ABSOLUTE FOCUS
Absolute Focus gives you a pretty good chunk of extra damage while above 70% health. This is a really great extra source of damage, especially if you’re going the lifesteal.
GATHERING STORM
Gathering Storm is obviously one of the best (if not the best) scaling minor rune you can take. Even though Kalista is an early game champion, Gathering Storm will give you more scaling, and can allow you to out damage opponents in the late game.

SECONDARY TREE: PRECISION
LEGEND: ALACRITY
Same explanation as above. Attack speed is everything to Kalista. Legend: Bloodline can also work, but I don’t think it out-values Legend: Alacrity because of the lifesteal nerfs.
COUP DE GRACE
When taking Hail of Blades, Coup de Grace will really help you burst squishies down and snowball. If you are in a harder matchup, or the enemy team has a lot of assassins, Last Stand is also viable, especially with the way it synergyzes with Immortal Shieldbow.
Summoner Spells Explained

SUMMONER SPELLS
FLASH: don’t be an idiot, take flash.
TELEPORT: As a marksman in the top lane, you should have no problem dishing out damage; however, you do struggle with survivability, which is why Teleport is one of the most optimal summoner spells for Kalista top lane. Teleport prevents you from missing a significant amount of CS or XP when you need to recall. In addition, once it transforms into unleashed teleport, it allows you to join fights across the map in an instant which offers you the opportunity to the turn the tides of a fight.
IGNITE: While Kalista typically doesn’t need the extra damage from Ignite in fights, Ignite is a viable option against heavy healing champions, such as Darius and Irelia.
Items Explained
GOTTA RUSH DEM BOOTIES

-OR-
For most games, you’re going to want to rush Berserker's Greaves. Getting second tier boots early on is typically recommended on Kalista because it increases the range of Martial Poise, enabling her with better kiting power and more mobility overall. Berserker's Greaves is great for Kalista because it’s the cheapest attack speed item in the game and is worth the rush. Go Plated Steelcaps into a full AD enemy team, and go Mercury's Treads into a full AP enemy team or against heavy CC.
-
MYTHIC OPTIONS

IMMORTAL SHIELDBOW
VS

KRAKEN SLAYER
VS

TRINITY FORCE
Immortal Shieldbow is one of the best–– if not thee best–– mythic options for Kalista. This is more of a defensive mythic, as it give you 7% lifesteal and a shield that procs when you’re below 30% health. Immortal Shieldbow is an ideal mythic against assassins, and I will typically go this item when there are no tank threats on the enemy team and need survivability rather than more damage. Kraken Slayer is like every marksman’s wet dream mythic item. Typically, you only want to go Kraken Slayer when against a heavily tanky team. Because this is an exclusively offensive item, keep in mind that you will be extremely squishy and your mistakes will be less forgiving. However, this mythic will allow you to dish out the most DPS compared to the other options, and the bonus attack speed from the mythic passive is perfect for Kalista since that’s her most important stat. Trinity Force is the most off-meta pick out of the three, but is definitely a viable choice for Kalista top. I like Trinity Force for the bruiser stats, and it makes Kalista feel more balanced, giving her enough durability while not stripping her from her identity as a damage threat. The damage output and movement speed from Trinity Force makes her a stronger duelist and also allows her to take towers faster.
-
LEGENDARY ITEM OPTIONS
Guinsoo's Rageblade
Guinsoo's Rageblade is arguably the best on-hit item in the game. Since Kalista is extremely auto-based, this item will help you shred and will make you an extreme DPS threat.
Blade of the Ruined King
Blade of the Ruined King is a great item on Kalista and synergizes a lot with her kit. However, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a staple item and will only build it into tanky matchups.
Runaan's Hurricane
Runaan's Hurricane is the best item for aoe attacks on kalista since the bolts add a stack of Rend as well. This item  can help you split push a lot faster, so I’d recommend it as a late game item since Kalista doesn’t have horrible wave clear with so much attack speed and Pierce] + Rend.
Bloodthirster
Bloodthirster is by far one of the best lifesteal items, and its passive is incredibly helpful for the extra sustain and durability you’ll be needing in the top lane. Bloodthirster is a better option for Kalista than Ravenous Hydra since you can get a better aoe item with Runaan's Hurricane instead.
Lord Dominik's Regards
Lord Dominik's Regards is a vital item when you’re against very tanky enemy teams. Black Cleaver is also a viable option for armor penetration, but you have to buy the full item in order to get its value whereas Lord Dominik's Regards builds out of Last Whisper so you can start getting armor pen sooner.
Mortal Reminder
Mortal Reminder is a must into heavy healing team comps. Buy Executioner's Calling and then wait until you have your core items to upgrade it.
-
SOME BRUISER OPTIONS
Titanic Hydra
Titanic Hydra is a really suitable item for Kalista in the top lane. Titanic Hydra’s main purpose is aoe damage which is really helpful for wave clear, but its on-hit passive is also great for shredding enemies. This is a great item to buy once you already have some attack speed items.
Black Cleaver
Black Cleaver is like the bruiser option of Lord Dominik's Regards. Both of these items are good on Kalista, but when you’re building her with this bruiser item path, it’s better to go Black Cleaver for the bonus health since other items like Titanic Hydra and Sterak's Gage both scale off of bonus health.
Sterak's Gage
Sterak's Gage is a good defensive item when you are building a lot of health items like Titanic Hydra and Black Cleaver since its passive shield scales off of bonus health.
-
AGAINST HEAVY AD
Randuin's Omen
Randuin's Omen can be a great counter item for a lot of top lane matchups like Tryndamere. It’s also a viable late game purchase against heavy AD teams, when Kalista needs more survivability over more damage.
Guardian Angel/color]
Guardian Angel is a good 5th or 6th item when you are built full damage and need to survive getting targeted in team fights. I personally don’t love this item just because it has such a long cooldown that it’s like might as well build Zhonya's Hourglass instead (not actually… but sorta).
-
AGAINST HEAVY AP
Wit's End
If there are any AP threats on the enemy team, Wit's End is definitely an item you want to consider rushing or building in your last items. It gives AD, attack speed, and magic resist, along with an on-hit passive–– do I need to provide any more reason as to why this is a perfect item for Kalista?
Spirit Visage
Spirit Visage is a perfect item for a lifesteal-oriented build, as it provides 25% bonus healing and shielding on you. Since this is a purely defensive item, I would only consider purchasing it if the enemy team is heavily AP and I have already purchased Immortal Shieldbow and Bloodthirster.
How to play the Early, Mid, & Late Game
EARLY GAME: Kalista is an early game monster–– don’t doubt your early game bullying potential. You’ll want to start E so you’ll be able to stack rend with your attacks and begin bullying your lane opponent level one. Most of the time, your lane opponent will be melee so if you can kite them, you’ll win fights and can often get first blood. Kalista is an inherently good duelist because she has insane mobility with her passive, martial poise (you should practice her mechanics in practice tool until you feel comfortable with kiting and inputting movement commands for her passive). Your goal is to win lane, win game. Her range and mobility are her biggest advantages in the top lane. Even if you cant kill the enemy, you can still win lane by out-farming your opponent by punishing them for CSing, so they either have to miss CS or lose health for last hitting. Learn the art of slow-pushing, which can also make your opponent lose CS or force them to go in a vulnerable place in the lane where you can engage on them. You can also extend your lead by ganking mid (make sure you have good wave management first), taking rift herald with your jungler, stealing enemy jungle camps, getting deep vision, etc. Basically, if you have a lead, don’t let it go to waste. If you are behind for whatever reason, play from behind. Farm safely under tower and try your very best not to int. Wait patiently for the enemy to make a mistake (because they will) and then make your way back into the game.

MID/LATE GAME: Even though you are a marksman, remember you are not the primary adc of the game. Typically the top laner belongs in the side-lane. As I mentioned, Kalista is a great duelist and she can also take towers incredibly fast with her high attack speed. In other words, Kalista is a great split-pusher. Learn when to split-push and when to join fights. Create pressure on the opposite side of the map from the current objective your team is eyeing to draw the enemy team to you. Look to join up with your oathsworn (which with most often be your jungler) for good ult opportunities. Kalista is really good at securing dragons and barons for her team because her rend stacking allows her to out-smite the junglers. Typically, Kalista looks to close out games as soon as she can before she can get out-scaled. Hopefully, your team can help peel for you because you are still a huge damage threat with your item build. Position well in team fights so you don’t get engaged on and die immediately. If you get to the late-late stages of the game (30 min+), stick with your team and take objectives together so you don’t get picked because the death timers are cancer long at this point.
Conclusion
Wow… we made it! I tried my best to be concise but detailed as well–– I personally love in-depth guides so I hope you found this helpful in some way. It took me a long time to make this guide (not just writing it and doing the BBC code, but also playing a lot of Kalista top that I felt comfortable writing about her). I would really appreciate it if you could like this guide if you know… you liked it.

If you have any questions or just wanna say something, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you! Thanks for stopping by :3
Changelog
Last updated: patch 12.16

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide