Kai'Sa Build Guide by Vapora Dark
Vapora Dark In-Depth ADC Kai'Sa Guide Season 11
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+10% Attack Speed
+9 Adaptive (5.4 AD or 9 AP)
Champion Build Guide
|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, but mainly ADC including Kai'Sa. 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guide of all time by a very large amount which hasn't come even close to being surpassed in the 3 years that it's been archived, and having the most collective guide views on the site by a very hefty amount.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.
Kai'Sa's been one of my top 2 favourite ADCs since release as well as one of my best ADCs when I'm looking to win games.
Kai'Sa can be also played in the jungle as well as in funnel duos with a premade, but this guide will be focused on her most popular role, bot lane.
I hope you enjoy reading the guide as much as I enjoyed writing it, and that by the end you feel my guide was worth the privilege of your time.
In this chapter I'm going to be gathering a compilation of Kai'Sa footage ranging from full gameplays from myself and more skilled players 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. Make sure to subscribe to keep up with all educational and other content that I put out.
|Hail of Blades: This is the best keystone for Kai'Sa as it helps you stack Second Skin faster onto enemies.|
|Taste of Blood: This is the best rune in its branch for improving your trades and sustain throughout the game.|
|Eyeball Collection: Although the other 2 alternatives are not really as bad as they sound, Eyeball Collection is simply the rune in this branch which is generally going to stack the fastest for an ADC.|
|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.
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.
Second Skin: The on-hit from this passive makes attack speed an amazing stat on Kai'Sa, and the execute makes her most effective against low HP enemies.
Additionally, she can evolve her spells based on her stats. Many people are too obsessed with focusing their build on evolving all 3 spells, but truth is evolving Void Seeker isn't very useful on AD Kai'Sa and is more oriented towards AP Kai'Sa, so even though we build some AP through Guinsoo's Rageblade (only because it's a good item for on-hit users), it's not worth building any more AP just to evolve Void Seeker.
You'll evolve Supercharge first because attack speed is the natural focus of your build, and once you've built Infinity Edge you'll be able to evolve Icathian Rain as well.
Icathian Rain: This spell gives you some waveclear, not great waveclear but it's better than nothing. Where it really shines is during 1v1s away from minions where the missiles all concentrate onto one target, especially once you evolve it.
Void Seeker: This isn't too useful for harassing, but in fights you can use it in between auto-attacks to add a little bit of damage.
Its most important use however is to enable you to engage on someone with Killer Instinct. It has an enormous range and so does Killer Instinct, making the synergy between them very strong.
Supercharge: This ability is nice for giving Kai'Sa some mobility, helping her kite, escape and dodge abilities whenever necessary. Especially once you evolve it it becomes very good since people won't be able to focus you while you're charging as you'll be invisible.
It's also obviously great as an attack speed steroid, as +60% AS is a huge amount. Make sure to only use it either when you know you can commit to a fight, or when you need the mobility/invisibility from charging it.
Killer Instinct: This ult was intended to be a pure aggression ult, but it can also be used defensively by ulting a target that gets into melee range of you and just dashing a short distance away from them. It also gives you a shield to protect you from damage if necessary.
One thing you need to remember is that this doesn't do any damage at all, it's purely mobility/engage and a shield. It's only useful in duels if you need to reposition or if you need the shield.
In previous seasons hybrid/AP Kai'Sa builds were highly popular and effective, but in season 11 Nashor's Tooth is no longer competitive with the other options you can build as an ADC, so you'll want to stick to AD/crit items only.
Your mythic options are between Kraken Slayer and Galeforce. 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 require some additional mobility to deal with.
Both items are aboute equally strong on Kai'Sa. 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 with The Collector as it gives some DPS while also making Icathian Rain hit like a truck. You can also optionally build Serrated Dirk before your mythic in laning phase so that combined with Noonquiver and Pickaxe you get an early Q evolve. Serrated Dirk is also the strongest damage component you can build.
For third item you'll want to round out your build with Runaan's Hurricane to get your E evolve and potentially some more AoE in teamfights. Afterwards Infinity Edge is the logical choice as you are already past the minimum crit threshold for its passive to kick in. After this you 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 4 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.
Navori Quickblades is expensive but amazing if you get the chance to complete it, since Kai'Sa massively benefits from having lower cooldowns and with Supercharge in particular she becomes incredibly slippery and hard to catch.
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. Its cheap cost makes it a solid choice to round out your build with if you're looking for a quick powerspike.
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.
Bot Lane Matchups
You'll want to take Icathian Rain at level 1 since it's your best trading tool and can slightly help you push.
When you get into lane, you should spam auto-attacks on minions 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.
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'll be leveling Supercharge to increase your mobility, which can be useful if you need to reposition, chase, or escape a gank. At level 3 you'll want to take Void Seeker for the extra damage.
Depending on the matchup you may either want to freeze the lane and zone the enemy bot lane with the threat of trades/engagement, or shove them in repeatedly harassing them and their tower, which works best when you have a mage support that can pressure the enemy under their tower. Freezing works best when you have a good engage support so you can more efficiently zone the enemy from the wave and they have no tower to protect them if they get engaged on.
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.
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. Kai'Sa isn't the greatest sieger due to her low auto-attack range with little poke/zoning power,
so be aware that you're going to be more at risk and not as effective as some other ADCs.
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.|
Ever wondered how pros can get 300 CS at 30 minutes before? No, it's not completely down to "insanely good last-hitting mechanics". You can do it too, just by using a simple wave control technique. Watch this video to understand how minion waves work.
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).
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 poke with Void Seeker and the occasional auto-attack while they're CC'd, 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.
That's it for my Kai'Sa guide. I hope you found this helpful and learn to play Kai'Sa as well as you want to.
If you enjoyed this guide you may also enjoy Vapora's Guide To Tristana, 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 banners and coding, as well as some input on info.