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Kalista Build Guide by Vapora Dark


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League of Legends Build Guide Author Vapora Dark

Vapora's Guide To Kalista

Vapora Dark Last updated on December 11, 2017
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Cheat Sheet

Kalista Build

Precision
LoL Path: Precision
LoL Rune: Press the Attack
Press the Attack
LoL Rune: Triumph
Triumph
LoL Rune: Legend: Alacrity
Legend: Alacrity
LoL Rune: Coup de Grace
Coup de Grace

Domination
LoL Path: Domination
LoL Rune: Sudden Impact
Sudden Impact
LoL Rune: Ravenous Hunter
Ravenous Hunter
Bonus:

+18% Attack Speed

Ability Sequence

2
8
10
12
13
Ability Key Q
3
14
15
17
18
Ability Key W
1
4
5
7
9
Ability Key E
6
11
16
Ability Key R

-Table of Contents-

Hey guys, I'm MSF Vapora Dark, a guide-writer and streamer sponsored by Misfits Gaming. I've been an EUW D1-Master level player since season 4, and on RU I've peaked at rank 7 Challenger in season 7. I've been writing guides since 2011 and write guides for a variety of different champions, and would like to think that I'm pretty good at it. My guides total over 40 million views!


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!

If you like Kalista and would enjoy talking about her, come participate in /r/KalistaMains on Reddit.

Follow me on Twitter.

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Join my Discord server.

Follow me on Twitch.





Precision & Sorcery



Press the Attack
Press the Attack: This is the best keystone on every ADC right now. It'll give you a nice bit of burst as well as increase your DPS and increase your support's damage as well.

Triumph
Triumph: This can be a life saver in close fights, and the 25g per takedown actually adds up to quite a bit in bloody games.

Legend: Alacrity
Legend: Alacrity: Almost all ADCs will want to use this rune over its alternatives since they all scale so well with attack speed. It'll ends up adding a lot of damage once you stack it up and have some AD and crit chance to pair it with.

Coup De Grace
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.


Sorcery


Celerity


Gathering Storm
Celerity: This gives around half the movement speed Boots of Speed does, which is pretty nice for a rune. It also has synergy with Zeal items and will give you just a tiny bit more AD, which can potentially be the difference between life and death.

Gathering Storm: All ADCs benefit greatly from extra AD, and Gathering Storm starts off kinda weak but really ramps up as the game goes on, and it shouldn't be underestimated how much of an impact a single point of AD can make in an ADCs kit.


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.

-Skill Order-

> >
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
E Q W E E R E Q E Q R Q Q W W R W W
Passive: Martial Poise

Martial Poise: This passive makes Kalista the most mobile ADC in the game. Unfortunately though it means that when you get slowed, unless you want to stand still the slow will effectively reduce your attack speed.

It also gives you an item to bind to one of your allies. You always want to bind this onto the support, since they'll be the ones spending the most time near you throughout the game, allowing you to proc Sentinel more often and allow you to receive its bonus attack speed.
Q: Pierce

Pierce: In lane this helps you poke, in team-fights it adds to your DPS or allows you to hit people out of your range. It's important to note that it interacts with your passive just as an auto-attack would, in that after you cast Pierce you are able to dash.

The best way to harass with this in lane is if you auto-attack a minion to low HP and get a lot of Rend stacks in it in the process, then poke your enemy with Pierce through the minion, killing it and transferring the stacks to your target, and then allowing you to Rend that person. It's not that much harder than just landing Pierce in normal circumstances, all it requires is just a little bit of setup.
W: Sentinel

Sentinel: The active of this spell is useful for getting vision in the river or in the enemy jungle. It's not as good as placing a ward, but in the absence of wards it's better than nothing.

The passive makes Kalista have great synergy with ranged supports as it increases her laning power, so long as your support is actually smart enough to abuse it.
E: Rend

Rend: This spell makes Kalista very strong in extended fights, but weaker in shorter ones. It also makes her damage very underwhelming if she has to switch targets; she almost only wants to use Rend as a finishing blow to reset the cooldown, so if an enemy leaves her range before the target is in kill range, they won't take all the massive potential Rend damage since you'll want to save it to use against someone on whom it might be more impactful.

In laning phase you can hit a minion so it's one Rend away from death, then auto-attack an enemy to put a Rend stack on them and then just cast Rend so they take a little more damage and you get your mana and cooldown back from killing the minion, resulting in a tiny bit more harass than just your auto-attack alone would have dealt. You can also just spam Rend to last-hit minions in general in lane to help you CS since if you time it right it'll never cost you any mana or leave you with Rend on CD anyway.
R: Fate's Call

Fate's Call: This spell makes for an amazing engage/followup engage, or for making picks on badly positioned enemies.

It's also great for helping your support get out of sticky situations, after which they can either choose to re-engage or run away.

A neat interaction you can do when getting ganked if Thresh is your support is to ult him, let him throw himself ahead of you, and then pull you to safety with Dark Passage.

Doran's Blade
Doran's Blade: Doran's Blade is the best starting item for all-ins, thanks to the HP it provides on top of the AD. Doran's Shield is also an alternative that's viable in lanes where you're likely to be pressured, such as when facing a high pressure support like Zyra.
Berserker's Greaves
Berserker's Greaves: You'll generally want to rush these ASAP since they give the most AS-per-gold-invested in the game and give you more movement speed, both stats which scale greatly with Kalista due to Rend and Martial Poise. I recommend buying Blade of the Ruined King components if you can't afford Berserker's Greaves, but you should build them as soon as you can afford the whole item, unless you end up being able to complete Blade of the Ruined King before them.
Ninja Tabi
Ninja Tabi: You can optionally build these instead of Berserker's Greaves if the enemy team has high physical damage threats, especially if most of their damage is through auto-attacks. For example, a Lucian ADC with a top lane Yasuo and a jungle Rengar. Even more-so if they have an AD mid laner. But you won't want to rush them, the earliest you'll want to build them is after Vampiric Scepter.
Blade of the Ruined King
Blade of the Ruined King: Giving a mix of AD and attack speed, this gives all the stats you could possibly want from a single item on Kalista.
Runaan's Hurricane
Runaan's Hurricane: This item has amazing synergy on Kalista as it allows her to spread Rend stacks onto multiple targets, which is amazing for both team-fighting and waveclear.
Last Whisper
Last Whisper: This is necessary most games as most team-comps consist of champions that build armor, and you'll need this to pierce through it. Depending on the enemy's items you'll want to build it either before or after GA. Which item you upgrade it to between Lord Dominik's Regards and Mortal Reminder also depends on the enemy team comp based on how many tanks they have and how much healing they have, but Mortal Reminder tends to be the best option these days since there's so much healing in the game between Redemption, Ardent Censer and Blade of the Ruined King.
Guardian Angel
Guardian Angel: This is a super strong item on ADCs right now because it gives damage and so much survivability for such a cheap cost (it's the cheapest item in an ADC build other than Boots). You'll basically want to build this as one of your full build items in almost every game right now. It works best with the ER build because you just have to sacrifice a lifesteal item for it, but less so with the Bork build since your lifesteal item is your first item so the only item you can sacrifice for it is your Last Whisper upgrade, which just isn't a good idea a lot of the time. Though if the game goes late enough you can sell your Blade of the Ruined King for it.
The Bloodthirster
The Bloodthirster: When your Guardian Angel is on cooldown and you need to sell it and temporarily replace it with another item, you almost always want lifesteal from either Mercurial Scimitar or The Bloodthirster. Which you take depends on how much CC the enemy team has, and how much you may require the extra beefiness of The Bloodthirster's lifesteal and shield. An important thing to note is that there's a way to cancel knockups/knockbacks with Mercurial Scimitar, which involves using the cleanse during the CC. That alone won't get rid of it, but once you've cleansed, it'll allow you to cancel the knockback/knockup by using Flash, or any kind of dash. Demonstration by faker. So if you ever get caught by Dragon's Rage or Unstoppable Force while you have Flash or 90 Caliber Net up, with good enough reactions you can stay alive. In some cases Mercurial Scimitar is so important that you'll actually just straight up want to build it instead of Guardian Angel if skipping Last Whisper isn't an option. Note: BT isn't really usable in the Bork build, but Mercurial Scimitar is sometimes downright necessary so you'd replace either Runaan's Hurricane or Phantom Dancer with it.
Maw of Malmortius
Maw of Malmortius: A very strong defensive item when you're taking heavy AP damage in fights. You start off with Hexdrinker and can build it earlier on then just sit on it until you reach 6 items before upgrading it to Maw of Malmortius if it's more important for you to finish the rest of your build. Generally this replaces Guardian Angel, but it can replace your Last Whisper upgrade instead if you don't need armor penetration.


Early Game

You'll want to take Rend at level 1 since it's your best trading tool and can slightly help you push and last-hit.

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.
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. Should the enemy bot lane be the one backing off, 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 just all-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'll be leveling Pierce to increase your trading power. At level 3 you'll want to take Sentinel and send it scouting either into the river to provide vision like a ward, or into the enemy jungle to get information on the enemy jungler.


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.


Out of Lane

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. Kalista isn't the greatest sieger due to her low auto-attack range with little poke/zoning power, but she does have mobility going for her, as well as Fate's Call to help keep her safe.
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 Alteration 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.




So when 2 minion waves collide on bot lane, in the middle of the lane, you should be there to push those 6 minions. And then you leave bot lane. No, you don't stay to push the 2nd minion wave too and force your wave to hit the tower. Aside from being at risk if you do that, it's also just not smart to do it. Because once you clear the first wave and your minions advance to crash into the next minion wave, your minions will be on the enemy's side of the map, and as you just learnt from the video, that means that the wave will slowly but inevitably start to push towards your side of the map.

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 poke with Pierce 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 Equilibrium Strike, as it'll prevent her using her deadly 2 second 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.

Hopper is Bae

That's it for my Kalista guide. I hope you found this helpful and learn to play Ashe 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. (Go check her shop out!)


If you're interested to see me play, follow my stream! Right now when I'm tryharding I pretty much only play Twitch, but if you would like to see me play any other ADC within my champion pool then let me know in the chat and we'll see if it's possible!