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Kalista Build Guide by Saarlichenbog

Top [Patch 10.25b] ~COMPLETE GUIDE for Kalista Top~ [WIP POSTPON

Top [Patch 10.25b] ~COMPLETE GUIDE for Kalista Top~ [WIP POSTPON

Updated on December 28, 2020
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League of Legends Build Guide Author Saarlichenbog Build Guide By Saarlichenbog 16 2 40,445 Views 5 Comments
16 2 40,445 Views 5 Comments League of Legends Build Guide Author Saarlichenbog Kalista Build Guide By Saarlichenbog Updated on December 28, 2020
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Runes: HOB ~ Standard Kalista Top

1 2 3
Hail of Blades
Taste of Blood
Ghost Poro
Ravenous Hunter

Legend: Alacrity
Coup de Grace

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


1 2
Standard spell setup
LoL Summoner Spell: Flash


LoL Summoner Spell: Teleport



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Champion Build Guide

[Patch 10.25b] ~COMPLETE GUIDE for Kalista Top~ [WIP POSTPON

By Saarlichenbog
Table of Contents

Why Play Kalista?

Why Play Kalista Top?

Summoner Spells




Understanding your Top Lane Matchups


Hi, my name is Saarlichenbog and I've been playing League since season 4. This guide is dedicated to
Kalista has historically always been classified as one of the traditional 'early game bullies' of the bot lane. With many subclasses that exist in the marksman role, Kalista's identity has always revolved around the early game primarily with the likes of Lucian and Draven.

Kalista's primary strength is her Rend powerspike, especially at levels 1-3. The combination of Kalista's high base AD on her Q (Pierce) at rank 1 and the slow on her E (Rend) which doesn't include how they interact with each other and her passive (Martial Poise) makes her one of, if not the strongest early game marksman at the moment.

Due to the nature of her build, she will scale well but she will not become a hypercarry at 30+ minutes. On the other hand, she is able to more reliably reach the items she needs to carry effectively without needing to become a hypercarry as games are typically being decided around the 20-25 minute mark, especially in high elo. This is why I personally think Kalista can be effective especially in the current meta and has been for the majority of season 10 as well.

If you are considering playing Kalista for the first time or you are a returning veteran, playing your first couple games of her will most likely feel awful as it is with other high skill-cap champions. However, you will find it very rewarding to master her once you figure out how much agency she can REALLY have over a game. It just takes practice!
Kalista has typically always been seen as a 'pro-play' focused champion because of the way her kit interacts around another champion with her Black Spear mechanic. This mechanic alone has made her reliancy on a teammate both extremely good for team coordinated play but simultaneously underperform in Solo Q in the past.

Although Kalista has the ability to snowball her games exponentially as a result of her early game playstyle, subsequently she is also very vunerable to being exploited.

Her kit has many glaring weaknesses that can be incredibly punishing when misused. Kalista has never been the same since season 6/7 after her domination in pro play which is why she received many 'counter-play' aspects in her kit. In short, her many nerfs over the past couple years make her extremely volatile to newer players picking her up as she is not as forgiving for making mistakes as in the past. This has contributed to one of many reasons she has a low pickrate with the combination of her incredibly high skill-cap in comparison to other marksman.

However, with her season 10 revival including the marksman buffs, she's definitely gained a lot of strength in base stats that were very crucial in bringing her back into some sort of relevancy with the majority of the playerbase and making it increasingly rewarding to those who have put in the time to master her.
Kalista has always been 'viable' as a top laner or even just a solo laner ever since her release just by the way her kit was designed. The reason why it works exists for a number of reasons:

1. She is ranged hence she always has lane prio
2. She is a lane bully and therefore she can almost always win lane when played correctly
3. Her seemingly infinite mobility in her passive Martial Poise makes her an incredily great duelist
4. Her early game base AD which is why she hurts so much with lethality
5. Her build is mostly on-hit orientated which is why she can maintain relevancy even in the later stages of the game
6. Her utility of her ultimate R Fate's Call is a great engage/disengaging tool for your jungler and synergises extremely well with hard CC engage.

In recent times, TheShy has popularised her use at the highest levels of play, including at the Worlds stage and has since had a dedicated playerbase to support it.

Nowadays, Kalista top is stupidly strong and oppressive when played correctly. It was so incredibly exploitative of the tank meta in season 10 that it was immediately hotfixed within a patch of its dominancy. However, with the power creep of the season 11 items in the preseason, she is currently not as strong but is still a great addition to your team. On the other hand, the pick has never been more flexible in terms of itemization (with the exception of Sanguine Blade because of its amazing synergy with the early-game playstyle Kalista wants to enhance).

FLASH --->

Flash is by far the strongest summoner spell on the rift. The value of instant mobility in the form of a blink is so incredibly strong that there are almost no champions in the game who do not want to run this spell, and you should too. As Flash can be used both offensively and defensively, you can use Flash to easily escape a gank or to close the gap on that one target who got away. Either way, if you're not taking Flash, chances are you are going to be weaker than everyone else who has it.


Similarly, Teleport is extremely overused in the top lane specifically although there is definitely a bit more room to switch between it and other options. As a marksman, you naturally deal a lot of in-built damage not accessible to other classes which is why you want to focus on your survivability in the top lane rather than looking for ways to increase the output of your damage such as Ignite. Whether you have accumulated a lot of gold from farming or you just got ganked, Teleport ensures you don't fall behind on exp in the lane. It's also a great tool for roaming from one side of the map to the other instantaneously, being able to respond to teamfights rapidly (e.g. fighting at the dragon pit) while allowing you to continue farming freely in the top lane. You should definitely be aware that Teleportis more of a utility spell if anything and does not enable you in lane offensively such as Ignite or Ghost. However, Kalista's dominates most of her lanes more often than not without the need for an offensive spell which is why
Teleport is one of the better spells to take.

Hail of Blades: This is one of the best runes you can take on Kalista. It gives you a nice trading pattern (3 AA's + Q) which allows her to be self-sufficient in the early game and is a large reason as to why she's so oppressive in the top lane.

Taste of Blood: The sustain this rune gives early game especially when you don't have any lifesteal yet can be a lifesaver as your base HP pool is especially weak. Granting 18-35 HP per level every 20 secs, this rune is a staple in Kalista's rune setup and outvalues the other options by a long shot.

Ghost Poro: While Eyeball Collection is a great way to stack AD passively after killing champs, the reality is that the top lane is much more punishing when you aren't able to get ahead to get those early kills which is easier to set up bot lane. You are also prone to getting ganked a lot more which is why the after effect of Ghost Poro is much better suited for her top lane playstyle although Eyeball Collection can work but is definitely much more of a risk.

Ravenous Hunter: Again, the sustain in this rune from the omnivamp it provides is invaluable and can't really be replaced by any of the other runes in the row. Sustain is a must for Kalista as its fundamentally a secondary-core to her kit and build as a whole.

Legend: Alacrity: As Kalista is an on-hit based champ, she relies heavily on attack speed to DPS. Alongside the nerfs to Kalista having less base attackspeed when not near her bounded ally, she desperately needs to take this rune. This also opens her up to the possibility of rushing over Berserker's Greaves to get the benefits of Sanguine Blade as a reward for snowballing extremely early, especially when the item costs 1900 more gold and incase she is not just against her lane opponent which nullifies Sanguine Blade's effect.

Coup de Grace: Due to how effective Kalista is at keeping her opponents below 40% HP in the top lane, this rune ends up getting the most out of its use. Whilst other options that are viable include Overheal for the potential sustain shield which is refilled constantly from how much inbuilt sustain you have and Cut Down due to how many tanks exist in the current top meta, both of them orientate themselves around a playstyle which assumes you are already fed and are extending into the mid-late game. Meanwhile, Coup de Grace is the best rune for her lane and synergises with her kit well to enable her to snowball harder where games tend to end around 20-25 minutes.


Lethal Tempo: A great rune to run against high health targets. This is a viable option to take as an attack based champion allowing you to exceed the attack speed limit. You will want to take this setup mainly against high health targets to get more DPS out of armour penetration items.

Overheal: As you won't be able to proc taste of blood and ravenous hunter as effectively as a Hail of Blades setup as well as the build focusing on building up lifesteal much later in the game, the immediate shield benefit from this rune can be just enough to sustain yourself in these tankier matchups.

Legend: Alacrity: As in the Hail of Blades setup, you need as much attack speed in your build early on as possible as it directly ties to how much DPS you can achieve. Especially in this Lethal Tempo focused build, you will be less inclined to be rushing early game orientated items and focusing on the mid-late game scaling which is why you will almost have no attack speed early on, leaving you vunerable which is why this rune is a must.

Cut Down: Even though Coup de Grace is viable in this setup, you are primarily using this rune page for Kalista to shred tankier matchups. Otherwise you are left with this weird hybrid which is not good at any one thing in particular. The HOB setup which is more suited for lower stat based champs akins to her duelist playstyle more than this rune setup. Take this rune as these types of matchups you focus on will always have more base HP and bonus HP than you as a marksman.

Taste of Blood: The main sustain from this rune setup will come from here. Taste of Blood is extremely important for lane use especially while you don't have any items which provide lifesteal or omnivamp even though you can't proc it as well as with Lethal Tempo compared to Hail of Blades.

Ravenous Hunter: This rune is also another great source for sustain but is more heavilt concentrated on her scaling aspect compared to Taste of Blood. This rune in particular has amazing synergy with Blade of the Ruined King, one of her all time favourite items. Stacks of this rune also apply with each bolt of Runaan's Hurricane and now that its getting buffed in terms of cost efficiency in Patch 11.1 is quite a reasonable consideration for her in the solo lane as well.


Martial Poise (Passive)

Kalista cannot cancel her basic attacks and they will miss if she loses sight of her target before they hit.

If Kalista enters a movement command while winding her basic attack or Pierce, she will drive through that direction when she launches her attack, dashing a short distance. The distance traveled scales with bonus movement speed.

Additionally, Kalista begins the game with a unique item, The Black Spear.

The Black Spear - Active: Kalista offers a pact to an allied champion. Should they agree, the item is consumed and binds them together, turning the target into an Oathsworn ally for the remainder of the game. Kalista requires an Oathsworn ally to utilize Sentinel's Soul-Marked and Fate's Call.

Pierce (Q)

Range: 1450
Cooldown: 8
Cost: 50 / 55 / 60 / 65 / 70

Kalista hurls a fast and narrow spear, dealing 20 / 85 / 150 / 215 / 280 (+1.0 per attack damage) physical damage to the first enemy struck.

If Pierce scores a kill, the spear will continue onward, passing all Rend stacks from the dead victim to the next enemy it hits.

Sentinel (W)

Range: 5500
Cooldown: 30

Passive - Soul-Marked: If Kalista and her Oathsworn ally attack the same target within 4 seconds of each other, the target will take additional magic damage equal to 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18% of their maximum Health. This effect cannot occur on the same target for 10 seconds. Damage is capped at 100 / 125 / 150 / 175 / 200 against minions and monsters.

Active: Kalista commands a soul Sentinel to the target location within range, gaining sight in a ~450-length cone in front of it. The Sentinel's sight is obstructed by terrain and brush. Upon reaching the target location, it will return to a point within ~1400 units of cast location. The Sentinel will perform a total of 3 laps, including the first two lengths.
The Sentinel is vulnerable from behind and will die if attacked twice by an enemy champion or once by a tower. If the Sentinel spots an enemy champion it will scream and stalk them for the next 4 seconds, revealing them for the duration.

Kalista stores a charge of Sentinel every 90 / 80 / 70 / 60 / 50 seconds, and can store up to 2 charges.

Rend (E)

Cooldown: 14 / 12.5 / 11 / 9.5 / 8
Cost: 30

Passive: Kalista's basic attacks and Pierce leave a spear lodged in her target for 4 seconds. There is no cap on the number of spears Kalista can lodge in her target.

Active: Kalista rips all spears from nearby enemies, dealing 20 / 30 / 40 / 50 / 60 (+0.6 per attack damage) physical damage and slowing them by 10 / 18 / 26 / 34 / 42% for 2 seconds. Rend's damage is increased by 5 / 9 / 14 / 20 / 27 (+20 / 23.75 / 27.5 / 31.25 / 35% attack damage) for every spear beyond the first that Kalista ripped from them. Rend deals 50% reduced damage to epic monsters.

Killing an enemy with Rend restores 10 / 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 mana and refunds the cooldown.

Fate's Call (R)

Range: 1200
Cooldown: 150 / 120 / 90 Cost: 100

Kalista draws her Oathsworn ally next to her, making them untargetable and disabling their spells for 4 seconds.

Kalista's Oathsworn ally must be within 1100 range to cast Fate's Call.

During Fate's Call, Kalista's Oathsworn can right-click a target location to dash there, stopping at the first enemy hit, knocking up all surrounding enemies and landing themselves at their maximum attack range from the target.


Immortal Shieldbow

[*] Naturally one of the better Mythics on her as the lifesteal this item gives is very appealing to her. Items which provide a % of attackspeed and lifesteal work amazingly with Kalista's kit overall and appeals to her playstyle the best. This is not to mention the old lifeline passive from the old phantom dancer it now has incredible value for the amount of survivability it gives as an mythic.


[*] Despite the many nerfs to this item over the course of this preseason including direct nerfs to its use for ranged champions, it's still a pretty favourable item for Kalista. While other ranged lethality users need the shield portion for the item to be efficient for them, essentially being a better version of shieldbow (e.g. Jhin or Miss Fortune), Kalista loves the fact that it builds out of serrated dirk (works well with her base AD) and it has 10% omnivamp. As long as both these components are in the item, the item is very viable for a lethality style Kalista top build.

Kraken Slayer

[*] This mythic is the carrying dream for many on-hit users solely due to the Vayne-like passive it grants on completion, essentially enabling any one with the item to have a significant boost to their late game. The passive works applies both true damage and on-hit with the item itself giving a massive 25% attack speed to its user, a very useful stat for Kalista. This means the mythic works in tandem with some of her best used items like Blade of the Ruined King and Guinsoo's, making her late game much stronger.


[*] With the recent buffs to this mythic, Galeforce is proving to much more useful for Kalista top compared to her ADC counterpart. Even though most of the stats this mythic grants in carrying potential are overshadowed greatly by Kraken Slayer, everything else about the item is great for 1v1 matchups. Galeforce grants 5 less AD, 5% less attack speed overall but the mythic passive and active of Galeforce is actually preferred in some matchups for Kalista top where mobility is a key factor, especially against bruisers. However useless the item might be for her ADC counterpart where most marksman have little to no mobility to threaten her own, top lane environment in particular has plenty of champions who specialise in it (including but not limited to Camille, Kled, Renekton, Fiora, Riven etc.) In these matchups, its extremely important to not get locked down by their movement which is often times followed by hard CC because as an auto based champion like Kalista where movement is directly tied to her DPS. Investing in this item might seem insignificant but having the extra passive of %3 movement speed scales with your passive Martial Poise, allowing you to jump further and run away faster when you are getting ganked which you are very especially vunerable to in the top lane being one of the longest lanes in the game. Kraken Slayer seems nice on paper, however the effects of the item only really kick in after you have accumulated most of your other on-hit items and does nothing to help you in lane which is your main focus. This item can definitely be a life saver for Kalista top in crucial matchups and is definitely always going to be viable for her.


Sanguine Blade

[*] An iconic item for Kalista top

Blade of the Ruined King

[*] On the other hand, this is another iconic item for Kalista but for her ADC position.

Rapid Firecannon

[*] The most cost efficient zeal item for sale for this patch (which is to change in patch 11.1 with Runaan's Hurricane getting a price reduction to 2400g and some stat changes to be covered)

Runaan's Hurricane

[*] A classic item for Kalista due to her interaction with it which allows each bolt to apply a stack of Rend onto her target(s).

The Collector

[*] The passive for this item - serrated dirk is a great stat for lethality builds

Edge of Night

[*] The defensive capability on this item while still providing the serrated dirk passive makes it one of the best utility based lethality items in the shop.


[*] Arguably the best lifesteal based item for Kalista in the game,

Guinsoo's Rageblade

[*] Conversely, this is probably the best on-hit item for Kalista.

Guardian Angel

[*] The stats for this item combined with the resurrection passive seems almost too good to give up as a finishing item in most builds. It can sit at priority for some builds if you are trying to maintain a lead (keeping in my the low hp pool this is optimal)

Ravenous Hydra

[*] Kalista's interaction with this item is often overlooked and highly underrated for what it can provide

Death's Dance

[*] Another great item finisher for any well rounded builds

Black Cleaver

[*] This item is great for not only its % armour shred but it's amazing synergy in it's passive which works with on-hit builds and scaling off missing health.

Titanic Hydra

[*] More or less confined to the combination of items corresponding to the AD Katarina style build but its seriously underrated in its combination.

Wit's End

[*] This item aged like fine wine between seasons and will potentially be a highly contested item in the future.



[*] An alternative to start laning but

Trinity Force

[*] Trinity Force is actually a 'viable' mythic on Kalista top for season 11 but it's definitely not optimal under any circumstance, at least for now.


[*] At least for the lethality build this was a serious contender to be built and was given some consideration until the recent nerfs hit this item relatively hard for ability casters.

Sterak's Gage


Chempunk Chainsword


Silvermere Dawn



Serpent's fang

[*] Currently, the preseason is transitioning into this weird 'shield-caster' phase for enchanter supports with the changes to Moonstone Renewer and this item has been receiving a lot of love recently. With a little more love, it may become a good alternative to lethality builders who

Phantom Dancer


Serylda's Grudge



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