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Caitlyn Build Guide by Luther3000

Caitlyn - Death From Afar

Caitlyn - Death From Afar

Updated on December 22, 2012
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Luther3000 Build Guide By Luther3000 172 34 626,103 Views 138 Comments
172 34 626,103 Views 138 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Luther3000 Caitlyn Build Guide By Luther3000 Updated on December 22, 2012
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LoL Summoner Spell: Cleanse


LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


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ADC Role
Ranked #25 in
ADC Role
Win 50%
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ADC Role Ranked #25 in
ADC Role
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More Caitlyn Runes


Hey, if anyone's reading this I'd just like to announce that I'll be archiving this guide about a week from now as I've almost finished writing a replacement. I'll post the link here once it's released. Until then, apologies for all the outdated text.

Welcome to my first ever guide for my current main and favorite champion, Caitlyn. My aim is to provide a concise and up to date guide for newer Caitlyn players to read without having to wade through walls of text.

Caitlyn is a ranged Attack Damage carry, and like all ranged AD carries she focuses on building massive amounts of damage to obliterate everything from a safe distance.

Unlike most other AD carries, however, Caitlyn has quite a strong early game. She has the longest attack range of any champion in the game (except for Tristana at level 13-18) and an excellent long range, high damage Q skill, giving her a great ability to harass and fight with other AD champions early game.

The price for this is that Caitlyn's late game is slightly weaker than some other choices for ranged AD due to her lack of any steroid skills. She is still extremely powerful late, but will be outclassed by the likes of Tristana, Vayne or Graves.

If Caitlyn still sounds interesting to you, please read on.

Thanks to Searz for the awesome guide format! You can find it here.

Please mouse-over any items or abilities to see their tooltip.

For any abbreviations you don't understand:


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Main rune set

Greater Mark of Strength
It's a close choice between AD and ArP marks. Both choices give better damage at various points of the game and in various circumstances, but AD runes also allow you to last hit more easily which is why I feel they are stronger.

Greater Seal of Resilience
I prefer to take armour yellows on ranged AD because of the fact that in almost all level 30 games you will be versus another ranged AD and a support in your lane. This means the main source of damage you have to worry about is physical, and responding with armour yellows means you can fight your opponent much more effectively in lane with a greater chance of victory.
Greater Glyph of Shielding
I take MR per level blues because one of the main threats to an AD carry is being bursted down by enemy mages. I prefer per level over flat runes, because you will usually face very little magic damage in lane and it only becomes a real issue late game.

Greater Quintessence of Strength
AD Quints will give you a large damage boost early in the game. These help with harassing and last hitting minions. Caitlyn's Q skill also has a large AD ratio of 1.3, which means it receives a good amount of bonus damage from using these quints.

Other runes worth considering

Here are a few others runes that may be worth considerating depending on your playstyle:

Greater Mark of Desolation Greater Mark of Desolation
It's a close choice between AD and ArP marks. Both choices give better damage at various points of the game and in various circumstances. ArP runes do slightly more damage against champions but they don't help your last hitting and their effectiveness is reduced by taking Weapon Expertise and Last Whisper
Greater Seal of Vitality Greater Seal of Vitality
Health per level yellows will benefit you in the late game by simply making you somewhat harder to kill to all sources of damage. Bear in mind these will leave you slightly weaker earlygame should you choose to fight.

Greater Seal of Clarity
You can choose to take these if you find yourself relying on your skills a lot and running out of mana. In general they are not necessary as long as you are cautious not to waste your skills.
Greater Glyph of Warding
You might wish to use these if you are laning against a support with a high amount of magic damage such as Sona, a carry like Tristana who has a lot of early game magic damage, or if you are laning in mid.

Greater Glyph of Clarity
These can be used if you want to have mana
regen without sacrificing armour/health yellows.
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Summoner Spells

Ignite is the best spell you can pick up for playing aggressively, securing kills and dealing a bunch of damage. Some may argue against this on Caitlyn since her range is longer than the range of Ignite, I say that her range is only 50 bigger and in a fight to the death you'll easily be in range to cast it at some point.

Flash is simply the best summoner spell in the game, no question. This is especially vital on an AD carry because any positioning errors or getting caught by the other team can quickly lead to your death. Use this to escape over walls, away from ganks, or to gain some range in a teamfight if you're getting focused.

Cleanse is a very strong spell against teams with extremely dangerous CC that could result in a quick death for you. Personally, I'm terrible at remembering to use Cleanse and prefer to play more aggressively. Should you choose to take it, use it to remove effects like Exhuast, stuns, taunts and other CC that would lead to your death or stop you from getting kills

I used to always take Exhaust on Caitlyn for the reason that it gives you a great deal of power over the opposing AD carry. Exhaust can essentially shut down an enemy for the duration, which is very powerful. In teamfights, use it on the biggest AD threat to greatly reduce their damage and make them easy prey for your team. In general though this is a better choice for your support.
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Skill Sequence and Abilities

On some champions it's a good idea to sometimes vary the order in which you level your abilities based on the state of the game, but on Caitlyn I don't think there really is any other choice for your skilling order.

You go with traps first so that you can trap up either mid or bot lane, skill your net at level 4 to use for escapes and otherwise focus solely on Peacemaker since it gives you great long range AoE damage. Your W and E are used mostly for utility and rarely for damage, so investing more than one point in them is not necessary until your Q is maxed.

As on almost all champions, invest in your R whenever it becomes available.


A fairly nice passive that gives you essentially half a free critical hit every so often. When it's ready Caitlyn will get an fiery glow effect around her hands.

Tips and tricks:
  • I highly recommend using your Headshots to harass your lane opponent. Either they will notice the glow effect and back away, causing them to lose farm, or they will take considerable extra damage.

  • Since attacks from brush count double for the attack number, if there happens to be safe brush within range of a fight it may be a good idea to shoot from there to increase your damage. Additionally you can use the brush in lane to build up the counter quickly if you are looking to heavily harass your lane opponent.

Piltover Peacemaker

This ability is Caitlyn's main tool for harassment early and late game, massive damage early game and farming waves of minions late game. Don't spam this in lane, only use it when you are sure of a hit, or you'll run out of mana very quickly.

Tips and tricks:
  • It's very important to remember that this ability has a one second delay before firing. This gives your enemy time to move away, so be sure to aim in front of moving targets and predict enemy movement paths. Don't use it when running away unless you're sure you're safe, because Caitlyn will stop and stand still while readying the shot.

  • Early in the game this ability does very high damage, but at around the point you buy your Phantom Dancer it begins to taper off. Remember that Caitlyn stops attacking for one second to fire this, so once you have enough Critical Chance and Attack Speed you will find you deal more damage from simply attacking normally. Late game, I only use this ability to poke at the other team, or when 3-4 enemies are clustered together.

Yordle Snap Trap

This is a somewhat unusual ability that you mostly use to defend yourself from ganks and to zone out your lane opponent, or to spot enemy players moving around the map.

Tips and tricks:
  • Early in the game it's important to place your traps correctly. Good locations include all of the bushes in bottom lane to catch out the opponent's support or jungler or in a line across the lane if you are in mid. If you catch someone you get vision of them, which means if you catch a support in your bush you can deal some good damage with autoattacks or a Q - you may even be able to get a kill if your ally reacts fast enough. It's important to note that you also very briefly get vision when you put a trap down, meaning you can scout bushes with them.

  • You can also use these to help zone the opposing lane. Zoning is essentially where you force your opponent to back away from minions out of fear of being attacked. If you block off part of the lane using traps, and stand on the other side using autoattacks, you can often force an enemy to back off or take damage. A strong tactic at the begining of the game is laying a row of three traps along the enemy side of middle lane - this can help your mid laner a lot early in the game.

  • In situations where your teammate has a stun, when they use it on an enemy throw down a trap right underneath or just behind their feet. Sometimes this way you can get a double stun on them. In teamfights you can also sometimes catch out someone who's not paying attention. Also, when running away or preparing an area for a fight (for example, at Baron) be sure to place traps in places that enemies are likely to run through.

90 Caliber Net

This is another unusual ability. Don't be fooled by the description, this is absolutely not a move to use for the damage or slow, the recoil is by far the most useful part to it despite being last in the description.

Tips and tricks:
  • This ability is Caitlyn's escape ability. Aim the net in the opposite direction to where you want to go, and Caitlyn will be flung a short distance in that direction. Use it the same way you would Flash - Jumping over walls, escaping from ganks, and to avoid being focused in teamfights. Remember it also applies a slow if it hits an enemy, which can be helpful if you can hit the person chasing you.

  • You can also use this ability to chase enemies by following them over walls or simply gaining ground on them. Again, aim away from the direction you want to go. Be very careful using it this way, however, because it can be very dangerous and get you killed.

Ace in the Hole

Caitlyn's highly underrated ultimate. It's fun to use and can kill champions that otherwise would escape.

Tips and tricks:
  • You should use this mostly to secure kills on low health enemies who would otherwise escape. Remember however that the bullet can be blocked by any enemy player. When you fire this, make sure that any nearby enemies are also very low on health or not near enough to intercept.

  • That said, sometimes it is worth using even if there are enemies in position to block - they may make a mistake and not block it fast enough, and even if they do they will still take a great deal of damage. If your teammates are in range, they will almost certainly pick up the kill.

  • If you choose to lane in mid, this skill becomes ever better since there will rarely ever be anyone in position to block it. If you get your opponent to around 1/3 - 1/4 of their health, hit them once more with an autoattack or Q and then use this for a certain kill. If you wish, you can even keep using this on them every time it becomes available to force them out of lane or get them dangerously low on health.
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General Item Build

If you're laning with a support with healing abilities, start Doran's Blade, if not, start with Boots and three health potions

I feel that this build gives you the absolute highest amount of damage possible. Once you hit lategame you can tear through just about any target - even tanks with 200+ armour will still take a lot of damage.

Yes, I realize that this build is very glass cannon, but I would argue that this is the entire point of an AD carry. With Caitlyn's massive range you can afford to go for all damage and rely on your positioning, 90 Caliber Net and Flash if you need to escape

The main difference between my item build and others on Mobafire is that I choose to build Last Whisper much earlier. Last Whisper is an amazing and greatly underrated item that allows you to kill tanks with ease and contrary to popular belief is still effective even on opponents who aren't stacking armour.
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Starting Items

Doran's Blade
A Doran's Blade simply gives you everything you need for early laning. Health, damage and lifesteal are all great for fighting your lane opponent, last hitting minions and keeping up your health.

Berserker's Greaves
In League of Legends boots are essential for every champion and Caitlyn is no exception. Berserker Greaves give you the best stat boost for an AD carry. Your damage output will rise noticibly when you buy these, and you'll also sometimes get a second chance to last hit a minion if you accidently don't kill it with the first shot.

Doran's Blade
Basically for the same reason as the first Doran's Blade. You can build this either before or after ugprading your boots, but I recommend before. Once you have this your lifesteal will be 9% and you'll start to actually notice it making a difference.
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Core Items

These are items I consider essential on Caitlyn. I build these items in almost every game I play.

Infinity Edge
I like to rush this as my first full item. This item is absolutely core on Caitlyn, and is by far the best item in the game for improving your autoattack damage. Remember that as a ranged AD you are focusing on AD, critical hits and AS. This item simply gives you so much damage it would be foolish to ignore it.

Vampiric Scepter
You need the Lifesteal from this in order to be able to sustain in lane. Once you have it you can generally stay in lane forever as long as you don't make mistakes, especially if your support has a heal. The amount of healing you get from this becomes very high as your damage and crit chance raises. Buy it before or after Infinity Edge depending on how much you need the healing and how much money you have, and turn it into Bloodthirster later in the game.

Phantom Dancer
This item basically speaks for itself. It's essential on more or less every AD carry, giving you every stat you could possibly want. The AS and crit combined with your Infinity Edge will give you massive continuous damage and constant critical hits. The 15% Movespeed bonus is also great to help your positioning and staying away from enemies.

Last Whisper
This was one thing I was very surprised about when looking around at other Caitlyn builds. Hardly anyone seems to build this item, at least not until even later in their build. Last Whisper is an absolutely amazing item. Penetrating 40% of the target's armour means you will absolutely tear through anything, even full tanks will no longer be safe from you once you finish this. The only situation I might delay this would be if nobody on the other team was building any armour at all (which is very rare).
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Preferred Items

Generally, most games will have ended before you get a chance to build anything else. However, if the game is still going on you should sell the Doran's Blades you bought earlier. These are my two favorite items to replace them with.

The Bloodthirster
This is the choice if you are keeping yourself alive well and don't feel in too much danger in team fights or from enemy casters. Although Infinity Edge is better for dealing damage, Bloodthirster is still an amazing item, giving high AD and Lifesteal, which you'll need this late in the game. With this, your damage will go through the roof and you'll be healing so much that you become fairly difficult to kill without CC. In my experience it's almost impossible to lose a game if you manage to reach this point in the item build and you're still managing to stay alive in fights, because you will be able to kill anything not stacking armour in four or five shots.

Guardian Angel
This is the defensive item choice for if you are in danger of dying during teamfights or when you know that if you die your team will lose the game. This gives you some nice defensive stats, but most importantly allows you to revive once instead of dying. The enemy team will have to chase through your entire team, tanking all of your damage, and then when they finally kill you they'll have to stand around taking damage from your team while you revive and (hopefully) finish them all off. Bear in mind though, that you may simply be killed immediatly after reviving, especially if your team is losing the fight.
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Other Viable Items

Usually I don't take any of these items, but they are viable choices under certain circumstances.

Quicksilver Sash
This is a fairly popular choice for similar reasons to the Cleanse summoner spell. It has basically the same effect, giving you a free escape from one CC effect. Generally a good buy, but especially if you see Warwick, Malzahar, Skarner or anyone else with an amazing CC that could catch you out of position. Personally I prefer Banshee's Veil, again for the reason that I'd probably forget to activate this. :P

Wriggle's Lantern
I've seen a few people building Wriggle's on AD carries recently. In my opinion it's generally a bad buy on Caitlyn, because you sacrifice a lot of damage to get it. It might be worth buying if your lane is losing badly for the armour and lifesteal, but really Caitlyn should not be losing the lane anyway.

Madred's Bloodrazor
Generally this is a pretty poor item for an AD carry since it doesn't really improve your damage all that much given it's massive price tag. However, this is a viable choice if you are facing enemies who are very tanky and stacking health. In combination with Last Whisper this will allow you to shred tanks quickly.

Banshee's Veil
This can be a good replacement for Guardian Angel in some circumstances if you're really worried about magical damage and/or CC. It will block one enemy CC, and significantly reduce the damage you take from enemy casters - which are your biggest threat - while also giving you extra health.

Elixirs should be bought continually every time you're in base if you actually manage to finish all your items (which is unlikely). Before this, it can often be a good idea to buy an elixir if you don't have enough gold for a major item and sense that the next fight will have a major impact on the outcome of the game - for example if your team is getting ready to Baron or pushing on inhibitors/nexus, or if the enemy team is pushing into your base. Focus mostly on the Green and Red elixirs because the Blue one doesn't really do much for Caitlyn.
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Laning Phase

First things first, evaluate your team. If you have a support champion like Sona, Janna, Alistar, Soraka or Taric you should go to bottom lane with them. Depending on your summoner level and ability you might find that nobody ever plays supports in your games. In this case, you can either take middle lane or just decide to go duo anyway even though you likely won't be getting all of the minions.

If your support has a heal, you should buy a Doran's Blade. If not, buy Boots and three potions unless you're feeling lucky. If your team has a jungler, it's a good idea to protect his jungle at the start of the game, but you can also use this time to place a row of three traps in middle lane to help out your ally (or yourself, if you choose to lane mid). If you're playing on Purple team you should generally also help your jungler by doing some damage to the Ancient Golem , assuming he is starting there - help him take it to around half health and then leave so that you don't steal his experience.

Once you arrive in lane the minions should already be fighting. The best strategy to farm gold and experience from minions is to allow them to fight until one is near death, and then pick them off with a single autoattack. This means that your lane doesn't push and makes it easier for your jungler to gank. Do not just continually attack minions except in special circumstances (more on that in a minute). I recommend that you check the bottom bush closest to your tower with a trap before moving to the minions in case your opponents are waiting for you inside.

Whenever there are no minions on low health to shoot, take potshots at your laning opponents. Caitlyn has the highest range in the game and you can and should abuse this to get free attacks on your enemies whenever you can. If you notice an enemy standing still or running forwards to hit a minion, use your Piltover Peacemaker on them. It's usually not a good idea to use it if they are moving from side to side, because you'll probably miss and waste mana.

If at any point your support catches out an enemy be sure to back them up with Piltover Peacemaker and autoattack from a safe distance. Kiting is also important on all AD carries, but especially Caitlyn with her range. If you start getting attacked, back away slightly and return fire, keeping in mind that you have a longer range. Always hit the biggest threat first, which should always be the AD carry.

Hopefully, you should be winning the lane. If you're able to kill the opposing AD carry, I highly recommend pushing your minions up to their tower by killing all the enemy minions as fast as possible - this denies them gold and experience, because the tower will kill all your minions before they can return. It's generally a good idea at this point to return to base and buy. On your first trip back to base buy Boots (if you didn't start with them) and another Doran's Blade (or two if you started boots). You may well have enough gold to go straight to Berserker's Greaves.

One last tip to remember is pay attention to items. If your opponent has more/better items than you, it's generally a bad idea to fight them. If you have more/better items, it's a good idea to pick fights. B. F. Sword is an excellent example of this. If one AD carry purchases B. F. Sword before the other they will almost certainly win a fight.
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Your role in teamfights is fairly simple in theory - deal as much damage as possible to the enemy team.

Firstly, you should stay right at the very back of your team. The worst thing you can do is get caught out by the enemy team, because your team is relying heavily upon you and it will generally lose the fight or even the game. Harass the enemy team with Piltover Peacemaker from long range until your tanks or offtanks engage with the enemy (or someone gets caught out).

During a fight the most important skill on an AD carry is positioning. Stay AS FAR from the enemies as possible while still dealing damage. Don't let them get to you, kite by running away slightly and continuing to shoot, and if this isn't enough use your 90 Caliber Net to escape if enemies begin to close in and focus you. Use Flash as an emergency escape from a situation where you would otherwise die, and use Exhaust either on the biggest AD threat on the enemy team, or anyone who's trying to get to you to kill you.

In general, you want to kill enemies in something like this order:

-AD Carry
-AP Carry
-Tanky DPS
-Support (mostly because they are easier to kill than tanks)
-Main Tanks

This is not always possible however, because the enemy carries will be trying to stay behind their team in the same way you are. It's not worth running into the middle of the fight in order to be able to target them - if you have to attack a tank because you can't get close enough to attack a carry, then so be it. That's actually one of the main reasons for buying Last Whisper in your build.

Basically, remember that positioning and staying alive is the most important thing. Your team needs your damage, and you can't do any if you're dead. It's not worth taking a risk and dying, especially later on in the game. When in doubt, just attack whatever is the biggest threat to you.
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Summary and Help

Thanks very much for reading. If you liked the guide, feel free to give it an upvote.

If you have any suggestions for improvements please post them in the comments, if they make sense I will be happy to follow them.

If you downvote, please at least give a decent reason and suggestion for what I can change instead of just being a troll.

If you're still having trouble with general gameplay

lcsullla is a Youtube user who has 150+ videos on League of Legends in which he analyses his gameplay and gives advice. He was basically responsible for teaching me the initial basics of the game, as I began watching his videos at summoner level 4. He has at least 4 or 5 Caitlyn videos in his collection.

I recommend that you watch some high elo streams to learn more advanced gameplay and decision making. These are some of my favorite streams and the role they generally play:

Guardsman Bob (Various)
TSM Dyrus (Top)
TSM TheOddOne (Jungle)
TSM Aphromoo (AD)
TSM Wingsofdeathx (Top)
Scarra (AP)

If you wish, you can also simply ask me by messaging me on Mobafire or ingame (Luther3000 on EU West) or leaving a comment below.

Lastly, have a picture of Caitlyn as a pony, because everyone loves ponies.

Yes, I realize this picture was used previously by another Caitlyn guide, but that guide appears to be archived or deleted, so I'm 'borrowing' it.
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22/12/2011 - Published

27/12/2011 - Added Elixirs, Alacrity Glyphs and made some minor description changes.

19/01/2012 - (1.1) - Big update, swapped Infinity Edge with Bloodthirster in the item build, swapped Ghost for Heal in summoner spells, removed AS Glyphs and ArP Quints on the grounds that they suck, added notes about using traps in mid lane, rewrote Elixirs section slightly.

28/01/2012 - Wow, looks like this guide is now featured. Thanks very much scouts. :D

25/02/2012 - (1.2) - Swapped out Exhaust for Heal as the main summoner spell. I've been using it all the time lately and it feels better. Swapped out Banshee's Veil for Guardian Angel in the build order - BV no longer feels as useful and I was underrating the passive and stats of GA. Swapped one point in Resistance for one point in Summoner's Resolve .

12/03/2012 - Swapped out ArP runes for AD.

19/05/2012 - Moved around the item order slightly and added a second PD. Moved one point from Summoner's Wrath to Butcher .

30/05/2012 - Added a bunch of new streams.

14/09/2012 - Removed Heal in favour of Ignite.

24/09/2012 - Removed second PD, swapped 6 AD runes for 6 ArP runes and swapped points into Tough Skin in Defence.

17/10/2012 - Changed to 19/11/0 masteries. I promise I'll update all the outdated text...eventually.

5/12/2012 - Switched to Cleanse and changed masteries to a temporary setup for the new mastery trees.

League of Legends Champions:

Teamfight Tactics Guide