Caitlyn Build Guide by Vapora Dark
Vapora Dark In-Depth ADC Caitlyn Guide Season 11
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+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
|Hi, I'm Vapora Dark, a veteran player that's been playing since season 1. During that time I've hit Master tier as a mid lane main in season 5, as an ADC main in season 7, again as a jungle main in season 8, and once more in season 9 playing a mix of all those roles including mid and Fizz. I can play every role to a very high level and have a very good understanding of the general aspects of the game on top of that.|
I've been writing guides on MOBAFire since 2011, among which my achievements include winning the MOBAFire guide contest multiple times, achieving the highest score on the site multiple times with multiple guides, achieving the most comments on a single guide of all time by a very large amount which hasn't come even close to being surpassed in the 3 years that it's been archived, and having the most collective guide views on the site by a very hefty amount. I've also written some champion guides for Riot Games on the Lolesports site.
Caitlyn is an ADC best known for her strong early-game. Thanks to her huge auto-attack range and pushing + zoning power, she has very few losing matchups in the bot lane, and can exert huge pressure over the opposing laners. She has a less than stellar mid-game but makes up for this with a great late-game, making her a solid pick in the ADC role.
I hope you enjoy reading the guide as much as I enjoyed writing it, and most importantly, that you take everything you can from it!
In this chapter I'm going to be gathering a compilation of Caitlyn footage ranging from full gameplays, VOD reviews of myself and more famous players, as well as short plays, to help you learn the champion even better if you're willing to put in the time to watch some extra content on top of the actual guide itself, as well as give you an idea of what the champion can achieve in the hands of a good player. Click here to sub for more educational content.
|Fleet Footwork: With the high range and usual trading pattern of Caitlyn the extra movement speed and healing can assure all but pure dominance in most lanes. Then once laning phase is over it'll make you that much harder to kill.|
|Overheal: With your massive range and healing from Fleet Footwork and Legend: Bloodline you'll be much harder to poke and be one shot with an extra chunk of health as a shield.|
|Legend: Bloodline: Caitlyn makes better use of lifesteal than most carries due to her Headshot. This together with her massive range and Overheal makes bloodline the best choice.|
|Coup de Grace: This is the best rune in its tree for almost every champion that wants to go into Precision since it's the one that simply does the most damage in your average game.|
Magical Footwear: Currently, all marksmen should go inspiration. The power of getting a free pair of 300g boots with extra movement speed is far too good to pass up. Whilst you don't get it for 12 minutes, takedowns lower this time. Plus you don't need boots early in this role pretty much ever anymore.
Biscuit Delivery: As the average game time has gotten shorter and shorter, lane sustain has become very powerful. As most carries buy no sustain for the early game, the missing health/mana regeneration the biscuits offer are second to none. The utility of these 2 runes is far too strong to pass up and as they'll be active in the game from the very start and have permanent effects they will never not be useful.
Flash and Heal has been the standard ADC summoner spell combination since possibly mid-season 3. In fact, Flash has been the standard summoner spell to take on almost every single champion since forever. It's always been indisputably the best summoner spell in the game, so there's nothing you can replace it with.
Heal on the other hand, replaced Barrier when it got buffed in season 3 to give movement speed on the cast, which is the reason it's been standard over Barrier ever since, despite being affected by Ignite's Grievous Wounds. Aside from the small movement speed boost, which can be used both offensively and defensively, another reason why it's stronger than Barrier is it affects an ally, which is perfect for bot lane where you're laning with a support.
The reason you want a defensive summoner on ADC is that you have a lot of DPS, so the longer you can survive, the more damage you'll put out, usually out-damaging what you'd get from Ignite. And if it can go as far as to save your life, then that's even better, as ADC's are very important to have alive for both providing DPS and taking down objectives.
In lane you'll want to time and hold your Headshots to zone the enemy ADC for extended periods of time, and if they don't respect the damage then you can poke them with it.
Of course you do want to try and hit your enemy with it as well if possible, but this is secondary to use it to obtain lane priority. Only once you have lane priority can you then start using Piltover Peacemaker with the sole intention of harassment, where it can even be beneficial to not hit any minions with it so you get the full damage onto the champion you hit.
Yordle Snap Trap
You can't usually force your enemies to step on your traps, but what you can do is use them for zoning since you can force your enemies to not step in the area they're placed. In laning phase you can place them to the sides of the enemy turret while shoving the enemy bot lane under tower, so the enemy ADC can't properly last-hit under turret without positioning somewhere they'll take a lot of punishment from you and your support.
Outside of lane it makes an excellent sieging tool since a maxed out Yordle Snap Trap can cover the width of a full lane, creating a line where enemies will have to step onto a trap if they wish to move forwards and defend their tower from incoming damage. If they can afford to take this damage, it whittles them down; if they can't, it leaves them unable to defend as you chip away at the tower uncontested.
90 Caliber Net
Whenever the net hits an enemy it'll slow them and allow you to hit them with a 1300 range Headshot, similarly to Yordle Snap Trap but without the trap's built-in damage. This is very useful for kiting, and in lane it can be good for trading, giving you the damage of 90 Caliber Net and Headshot.
You can combo 90 Caliber Net with Piltover Peacemaker and Yordle Snap Trap by casting them during the 90 Caliber Net animation. In Piltover Peacemaker's case, this interaction causes it to begin firing in the middle of the 90 Caliber Net animation, and to fire from your position at the start of 90 Caliber Net rather than the end of it, and if you hit your enemy with 90 Caliber Net, it'll give you an easy Piltover Peacemaker shot as they'll be too slow to dodge it. In the case of Yordle Snap Trap, it's the combo best used while kiting or simply fleeing from enemies, as you can slow them and then place a trap slightly in front of them so they step into it while chasing you. Combined with the 90 Caliber Net slow, they'll be too slow to move off of the trap before it snares them. This is my favourite combo to pull off when I can since it lines you up for 2 Headshots in a row, and can potentially reach 3 consecutive Headshots depending on your passive's counter.
Ace in the Hole
Ace in the Hole: This spell has two uses: sniping low HP enemies, and harassing. The former is the most obvious use of the cooldown, and a trap many players fall into is only using it that way. The latter is less obvious, but a very effective way of using it, since if you use it as harass before a fight has even come near to breaking out, you get the damage out early, ensuring that its damage goes through even if you end up dying before getting to use it later on. Additionally you're not wasting the cooldown by keeping it up while you don't need it, and can have it come up next time you need it anyway if a fight breaks out late enough.
The only complicated thing about using it as harass is picking the right target at the right moment. You want to use it on a target where the damage will make a notable dent. For example, you don't want to use it on an ADC that has Bloodthirster since they may have a shield, and even if they don't, they'll quickly lifesteal back to full HP anyway, wasting your cooldown. Additionally you wouldn't want to use it on a champion like Orianna usually since she can shield herself from the worst of it with Command: Protect. You also don't want to use it on any champion that would otherwise be fine to use it on if they have near them a champion that can shield or heal them from it, such as Orianna, Karma, Janna, Soraka, etc.
I've seen pros repeatedly waste the cooldown trying to harass someone who promptly receives a shield and takes little to no damage from it, so as important as it is to use it as harass when you can, it's even more important to be smart about when it can be used this way.
Your mythic options are between Kraken Slayer, Galeforce and Immortal Shieldbow. Kraken Slayer and Galeforce are the strongest and what you should go in most games but Immortal Shieldbow can have its uses in games where you face high burst and may want more survivability. Kraken Slayer is not just the best item for dealing with tanks but the highest DPS item in general, while Galeforce offers both a lot of safety as well as a lot of burst. It can help you get more kills and snowball, and stay safe from opponents whom might benefit from your immobility.
Between Kraken Slayer and Galeforce, both items are very close in strength with Galeforce being slightly stronger. When choosing which to build, it should be considered which will be more beneficial to you in any given game. When in doubt though, it's true that you cannot go wrong with Kraken Slayer, while Galeforce can leave you lacking in damage if you miscalculate how much DPS your team needed from you in fights.
As your second item you'll always want to go Stormrazor since Caitlyn's DPS benefits so much from AD. The slow can also help you abuse your range advantage either for kiting or chasing people down.
For third item your main option is Infinity Edge but you can also consider The Collector as a cheaper alternative against comps that won't build much armor. The lethality makes it equally as effective relative to its cost against low-armor targets, and can potentially allow you to hit a big powerspike one back sooner, as well as sit on Serrated Dirk instead of B. F. Sword which is both a stronger component and also more affordable since it lets you pick up a Long Sword if you can't afford anything else. Should you opt for The Collector you should build Infinity Edge afterwards, while in the reverse you have The Collector as an option but also have the following items to consider.
Lord Dominik's Regards is essential against multiple tank comps, especially when they're particularly focusing on stacking armor. It's recently become a trend to build this early (2nd or 3rd item) against tank comps but I believe this is misguided because the damage increase onto tanks is nowhere near enough to compensate for the amount of damage you lose onto non-tanks compared to building your regular core items. This, as with any situational item besides components like Quicksilver Sash, should only be considered after your first 3 core items, and never before.
Mortal Reminder is essential against comps or individual champions with high reliance on healing, such as Vladimir, Aatrox or Dr. Mundo. You should also consider rushing Executioner's Calling as your first big component in laning phase against supports like Yuumi or Soraka because all their strength in laning phase comes from their healing, and cutting it in half has a greater impact in fights than building damage. You also don't have to complete Mortal Reminder until you've completed the rest of your build, since it's a very cost-inefficient item and most of its benefits are already obtained with just Executioner's Calling.
Bloodthirster is now an amazing choice if you can afford to spare the gold now that it gives 20% crit chance. This is an item that offers a great mix of offense and defense between its +20% lifesteal and the huge overheal shield. A great item to be considered when in search of some tankiness as an ADC.
Guardian Angel is a good item to build when your team's win condition hinges on your own survival. Usually built as a final item but can be built at any point after Infinity Edge if you're not lacking in damage.
Phantom Dancer is a very strong final item if you don't need other situational items and don't have to worry about survivability. It gives you a lot more movement speed to help kite and chase people down, and also a ton of attack speed once you fully stack it, making it the highest DPS item you can build besides Kraken Slayer and Infinity Edge.
Mercurial Scimitar is mandatory against certain champions whose CC can be devastating and hard to avoid, such as Skarner, Malzahar, Lissandra and many more. You can start by building just Quicksilver Sash at any point after your first item, whenever you deem it necessary, and just like Mortal Reminder you don't want to upgrade it until you've completed the rest of the build since it isn't a very cost-efficient item once you already have the active.
You'll want to take Piltover Peacemaker at level 1 since it's your main trading tool besides your auto-attacks, and it'll help you outpush the enemy bot lane as you race for the first level up.
When you get into lane, you should spam auto-attacks to push as fast as possible to beat the enemy bot lane to level 2. You can try and poke the enemy ADC with free auto-attacks if a good opportunity arises, but for the most part you shouldn't be actively seeking these and should instead just focus on pushing faster than the enemy bot lane.
Whichever bot lane starts losing the push should begin to back off once they've clearly fallen behind in the push, to avoid trading against the bot lane with the minion advantage. As Caitlyn you're one of the fastest level 1 pushers and will commonly find yourself winning the race. At this point you don't want to keep pushing, but rather begin to freeze by only auto-attacking the minions to last-hit. This is for two reasons: the most obvious reason is that when your minions get low from being auto-attacked by the minions you're intentionally leaving alive, the enemy ADC has to walk towards you if they want to last-hit it and take free poke in exchange, and rather than do that they will instead choose to miss that CS, placing you at a CS advantage. The second reason is that while you want to push for your level 2 powerspike, your level 2 powerspike is useless if you push the enemy bot lane safely under tower. You want the minion waves to stay as close to the middle of the lane as possible, so that when you hit level 2, if the enemy bot lane don't let themselves be zoned far enough away you can jus tall-in them for a kill, or at least chunk them for a lot of damage. Good minion wave management at this stage will have you winning the level 2 race without the minions budging from the very middle of the lane until later.
Should you find yourself losing the race though, you should back off when the enemy bot lane is approaching level 2.
At level 2 you have the option of skilling either 90 Caliber Net or Yordle Snap Trap. 90 Caliber Net is more useful if you think you may need it to escape ganks or to kite backwards during fights; Yordle Snap Trap is better for bullying and zoning the enemy bot lane, especially under tower.
Throughout laning phase your win condition is almost always just to shove every wave into tower and force the enemy ADC to last-hit there. Caitlyn is great at harassing under tower with auto-attacks due to her large auto-attack range. You can place traps to restrict the space the enemy ADC has to last-hit in, and you can harass with Piltover Peacemaker whenever you have an easy shot.
Whenever you're shoving under tower and can't poke anyone with auto-attacks, you should be auto-attacking the tower to make sure it goes down as soon as possible, since it's a +650g boost in power for you if your team allows you to take full local gold (as they should).
Outside of laning phase, your objective is to destroy the nexus. No I'm not kidding, that's literally the best way to describe it. Every action you take in laning phase is to set you up for mid-late game, every action you take outside of laning phase is to bring you one step closer to destroying the enemy nexus. The way you do this is by performing actions that will make killing the enemy team easier (acquiring gold, dragons, barons) so that you have less resistance, and destroying towers as a way to acquire gold, have better control of the map, and open up routes to the nexus.
|At this point you should be grouping with your team as much as possible to teamfight and siege down towers. Caitlyn is possibly the best ADC in the game at sieging towers partly because of her massive auto-attack range, but mainly because Yordle Snap Trap makes it extremely hard for the enemy team to defend a tower.|
Sieging towers is pretty simple, but you need to be careful about it. When both teams are alive and your team is trying to take a tower, it's your job to do as much damage as you can to the tower without dying. You need to do as much damage as you can while remaining safe. This means you can't just walk up to the tower and stand there auto-attacking until it dies; this leaves you open to get engaged upon, unless there's no resistance from the enemy team. Instead you have to repeatedly poke the tower. Walk up to it, attack it a bit, back off if someone dangerous is walking up to you. Now you might think "but what if they never stop protecting their tower? Doesn't that mean it's never safe for me to auto-attack it?". If they're constantly standing in a defensive position in relation to their tower, then they're most likely to be in range for your team to poke them and force them back. They need to be in a place where it's safe for them to sit and look for a good engage, where your team has no way to attack them without tower diving them. And if they advance, that takes them further out of safety, so if you match their movements to stay safe from an engage, they'll be forced to move back for their own safety again, as they don't want to get engaged on in a bad position either, nor poked down to a point where they need to recall to recover their HP.
So you should think of sieging as slowly whittling down a tower. It almost never takes a single minion wave to destroy a tower (unless you have baron buff), it can take many, many waves, but slowly but surely, the tower will go down if you can siege it properly.
When you're attacking a tower with enemies nearby you always want to be positioned at max distance from the tower while you auto-attack, and in between auto-attacks you should move backwards then forwards, so that while your auto-attack is "on cooldown", you're not spending any more time closer to the danger than necessary. It's also good habit in case they start to try an engage and you're already automatically moving backwards the moment you finish your auto-attack, meaning you'll often protect yourself from an engage faster than you can actually react to it, so long as you notice in time to not move back towards the tower for your next auto-attack.
||Against teams with very high wave clear (hello Anivia), it can be very hard if not impossible to siege down towers, especially inhibitor towers that actually recover HP all the time. Your options in these situations are to engage on the enemy team under their tower (which only works when you're reaaaaaaaally far ahead), get another lane to slow push then rotate to it when the wave is reaching the tower, or go get baron. The enemy team won't usually just give up baron for free though, and so you can use this to bait them into a fight. They'll need to constantly have vision on baron to make sure you're not doing it, which can be hard to keep up if your team places Control Wards and uses Oracle Lens to clear their wards, so at some point they might have no choice but to face check baron to make sure you're not doing it. Even if you are, you can take the opportunity to turn around and team-fight, so long as your team hasn't become too low to fight.|
After clearing that first wave you just go pressure mid or teamfight or whatever, then you just return bot lane in 2-3 minutes when the enemy minion wave has finished pushing to your tower (and make sure to get there before the minions start dying to the tower). At that point it'll be a 15-20 minion wave. Assuming it's 20 minions, and you've been off of bot lane for 2 minutes, you'll be getting 20 minions for the 2 minutes you've spent off lane, keeping with the 10 cs per minute rule you always want to aim for (though won't always be able to achieve).
But even if it isn't quite 20 minions, the time that you've spent off of bot lane, you'll have spent farming mid lane, and maybe even jungle monsters. You'll essentially be farming 2 lanes at once, keeping you easily above the 10 CS per minute rule so long as you can consistently get to the bottom lane wave in time before the minions start dying to the tower. This won't always be possible, as CS isn't the most important thing in the game. Sometimes you'll be busy teamfighting, or making sure you're around in case a teamfight starts. But in general you'll want to go farm the wave as much as possible, then push the wave onto the enemey's side of the map to restart the push, both to get ahead in farm and to avoid having a huge minion wave destroy your tower.
When the wave that you're pushing is a cannon wave, that messes with this technique a little bit. Because you'll be killing the enemy cannon minion and letting your own cannon minion push uninterrupted, the enemy minion wave won't slowly push up to your tower. Instead your minions will continue to push forwards, very slowly. When it's a cannon wave, you should either push the 2nd wave too (if it's safe to do so, not at all safe to do when the enemy team is ahead in towers and enemy threats are unaccounted for on the minimap), or just recognize that you won't be able to get the wave to push back to you in this specific situation and settle for creating a slow push instead, rather than trying to create a farming opportunity for yourself later on.
The video also explains how to create a slow push, but this technique is very rarely useful in solo queue with how uncoordinated everyone is outside of very high Elo. Keep it in mind in case you ever think it could be useful, but most of the time it just ends up creating a huge minion wave for the enemy AD carry to farm, getting him ahead in farm instead of you. It's better suited for ranked 5s assuming your team understands the strength of a slow push, or if you're a high Challenger player and for some reason reading a MOBAFire guide.
In some situations, notably when you expect to be sieging for a while and especially sieging towers that are really close to the enemy base, such as inner towers and inhibitor towers, it's really not ideal to have to force yourself to go back bot lane to farm every 2 minutes. If you do the technique and you can't go bot you'll essentially have just created a slow push against yourself, causing the enemy minions to die to tower, wasting gold, damaging your tower, and possibly even destroying it. Rather than putting yourself in that situation, this is when you want to create a slow push against the enemy team, as they'll hopefully be too busy defending against the siege to send someone to clear bot. This way they'll be the ones losing minions to the tower, taking tower damage, and possibly losing a tower if it's already low. And if they do send someone to clear it, you'll either have an easier time sieging or your team will be able to dive the enemy team 5v4 under tower.
When it comes to team-fighting as an ADC, there is one golden rule which is the most basic team-fighting rule of all, and yet makes you an infinitely better team-fighter if you start following it; attack whoever's closest to you. If you stand at the back, behind your frontline, and just auto-attack whichever enemy is absolutely closest to you, you have the best possible positioning, as you'll only be in focus range of whoever's diving you, or whoever you're attacking. It's recommended in general to take down the enemy carries before the tanks, but as the ADC if you try to attack a carry then you're in range of every single member of the enemy team, and if they all focus you then you'll go down in under a second. By keeping your distance and attacking just whatever's closest, you'll be hardest to kill, and can therefore output maximum DPS by just staying alive and being able to auto-attack all fight long. The only time you should attack the enemy team's carries is when there's no other enemies standing between you and them or if they're horribly positioned themselves and you can focus them down along with your team.
The best players of all know not only when to follow that one basic rule, but also when to take even further measures to stay safe. Before you ever even get into a team-fight, you should have already analyzed what all the threats to you on the enemy team are, and play more safely or aggressively accordingly. For example, if a Shyvana is the one trying to dive you, you'd want to follow the rule of attacking whatever's closest, and just kite her while your team also hopefully tries to peel her.
||But sometimes you need to turn the safety notch up another level and straight up walk away from someone that could be a threat to you. For example, if you're playing vs Zed, you cannot be one of the ones trying to focus him down while he still has enough spells and HP to be a threat. Even if he's the only person in range of you, and you have 3-4 team-mates around you, you still can't be auto-attacking him until the threat he presents has been neutralized ( Death Mark goes on CD, or he gets so low that he'd die before he could burst you). All the skill and mechanics in the world won't stop him bursting you down in half a second if he gets near enough. And you not only need to stay out of his Death Mark range, you also have to account for the extra distance he can cover with Living Shadow, Youmuu's Ghostblade and Flash, and how quickly they can help him close the gap.|
No, when you're playing against Zed and you see him running in your direction, you stay as far the f**k away from him as you can get. Don't help your team kill him, that's not your job. The assassin's job is to kill you, your job is to not die to him, and your team's job is to protect you from assassins by killing them. If the assassin commits their cooldowns onto someone else when they realize they can't get to you, that's when it's safe for you to walk back into the fight. Or if the assassin gets CC'd and blown up uselessly before they get to do anything, then it's also safe!
Champions that present such a large threat to you aren't just limited to assassins ( Talon, Zed, LeBlanc) that can burst you down within a second. Other champions, mostly if fed, can just out-duel you so brutally, that even if you have 2-3 team-mates helping you in an effective 1v3/1v4, you're still going to die if they can get in range of you. Champions that can commonly do this when fed are bruisers like Irelia, Jax, Renekton, etc. Champions tanky enough to qualify as tanks while still dealing huge damage to a squishy target like you, especially when fed.
Against champions like these, it's really necessary for you to watch out and keep your distance. You can throw Piltover Peacemaker at them, but you can't fully commit to DPS'ing them down until again, they either fall so low at your team's hands that they're no longer a threat, or realizing that they can't get to you, they commit their most important cooldowns (mobility and/or CC) onto someone else. In Irelia's case, it's safe to commit onto her when she's used either Bladesurge, as she won't be able to gap close to you or burst you with it (though Flash may still pose a threat), or Flawless Duet, as it'll prevent her using her deadly stun on you. And if she's used both then until they come off of cooldown she presents almost no threat at all, so long as you maintain good positioning and kite if she tries to walk towards you.
When following the rule of "attack whoever's closest", often you'll have to choose between two champions that are at a more or less equal distance from you, and it'll be optimal for you to attack one or the other, but it's hard to be completely certain about who the right target is. That being said, here are some things for you to consider which will hopefully lead to you making the right choice:
1) Which is the bigger threat?
You'll want to take out whoever's the biggest threat not just to yourself, but to your team as a whole, and disregard the weaker enemy. Sometimes it's not very clear cut, others you have to choose between a fed Riven and a 1/1/5 jungle Sion, in which case it's a very obvious choice which you should focus.
2) Who would die faster?
When the targets are equally threatening, you'll want to focus whichever one is squishiest/lower HP, as the sooner they're out of the fight, the sooner your team gains a numbers advantage. Sometimes even if they're the lower threat, it's still worth focusing them down first if they're going to die significantly faster, but only sometimes, and it depends on how big a threat the other possible target is.
3) Who's least likely to get away from you?
The less mobile one is the least likely to walk away and succeed in getting away. You'll want to focus the least mobile one as they're the ones most likely to die if they get low. A tank with gap closers like Zac (and let's just say his passive isn't up so you don't need to worry about that) may get low, then just leave the fight with Elastic Slingshot before you can finish him off. If your other option is an equally tanky Sion for example, he's less likely to be able to get away alive when he gets low, so it'd be smarter to focus him in a situation where it's just as easy to auto-attack both.
Generally, from top to bottom those would be the most important factors to take into account respectively, but sometimes one factor, if it's big enough, can over-ride a generally more important factor. For example, choosing to DPS down a negative KDA, full AD Lee Sin, over a fed Irelia, because you can kill the Lee in about 2 seconds while the Irelia is a lot tankier, so takes a fair while longer to kill.
If you enjoyed this guide you may also enjoy my Tristana guide, a guide to one of my favourite ADCs. They have very different playstyles but I find Tristana fun to play as well. Otherwise you may still want to read it if you're wanting to improve your ADC skills because it's kind of like a general ADC guide as much as it is a Tristana guide.
Special thanks to Hopper for doing the banners and most of the coding.