Kai’Sa is the newest champion to hit the Rift. She’s an ADC that can fill the role of split pusher, skirmisher, and teamfighter. Her low auto-attack range makes her vulnerable in laning phase, but she scales well and her mobility helps make up for her range, making her a menace if she can get out of her lane unfazed.
Kai’Sa is an ADC that can fit the role of split pusher, skirmisher and teamfighter.
Fleet Footwork: Due to Kai’Sa’s low auto-attack range, this is the best keystone for her as it gives her some extra sustain and mobility to compensate for her vulnerability. However, Press the Attack can also be good if you’re facing tanky team compositions or if laning phase is going to be explosive with constant all-ins.
Presence of Mind: This is good since every level you can spam your skills to all-in or push the lane and in fights you’ll have a lot of room to use whatever spells you want after you get one kill or assist, which plays well with Kai’Sa’s short cooldowns.
Legend: Alacrity: Attack speed is a great stat for all ADCs, and Kai'Sa is no exception. Alternatively you could instead opt for Legend: Bloodline, an equally viable choice focused on slightly improving your sustain in lane and allowing you to have lifesteal in the mid-to-late game without having to use an item slot for it.
Coup de Grace: This is the all around best rune in its branch for ADCs, but at the same time, don’t overlook Cut Down; Minitroupax advises to take it if the enemy team has at least two big frontliners, like a Sejuani and Maokai combo for example.
Celerity: This rune is one of the best in the game on any role including ADC, and this is especially true on Kai’Sa since her mobility is key because of her low auto-attack range.
Gathering Storm: The additional attack damage helps Kai’Sa scale amazingly well, and it’s a great rune even if the game doesn’t go too late.
Flash: Absolutely core on all ADCs since it’s the best all-around Summoner. It can help you reposition or dodge skillshots in fights, or it can help you chase down a fleeing enemy.
Heal: The best secondary summoner spell for all ADCs. Heal is strong because it affects you and one ally while you play in a duo lane, meaning it can save either you or your support when you get low in early skirmishes.
Passive: Second Skin
The on-hit effect from this passive makes attack speed an amazing stat on Kai'Sa, and the execute makes her very effective against low HP enemies.
Additionally, she can evolve her spells based on her stats. Many people are too focused on their build evolving all 3 spells, but honestly, evolving Void Seeker isn't very useful on AD Kai'Sa and is more oriented towards her ability power build, so it’s not worth building AP just to evolve Void Seeker. You’ll want to evolve the other two only once you’ve built up the right stats for them.
Q: Icathian Rain
This spell gives Kai’Sa some waveclear, which is always useful on an ADC. It’s not amazing, but it prevents her having to clear waves with only auto attacks. It also does double damage to minions below 35% HP, so dropping a minion wave to low HP before using Icathian Rain for waveclear will make it more efficient.
Icathian Rain really shines in 1v1s away from minions where you can concentrate all the missiles onto one target, where the base damage and ratio becomes really high.
W: Void Seeker
While this spell doesn’t have much base damage, it’s still deceptively pokey early due to its huge total AD ratio. It can be pretty hard to harass with in lane since it doesn’t go through minions, and the cooldown is very high, but it’s useful in all-ins where it’s easily landed, plus it’ll add 2 Plasma to increase your auto-attack damage.
One thing that’s important to note is that its range is huge. You can use it to snipe down low HP enemies, but more importantly it gives you the ability to engage with your ultimate from a long distance away.
Minitroupax playing Kai'Sa: An example of the huge distance that can be covered with the W -> R combo
This ability is great for giving Kai'Sa some mobility, helping her kite, escape, and dodge abilities whenever necessary. Once evolved it becomes even better since people won't be able to focus you while you're charging invisibly.
It's also great as an attack speed steroid, because +80% AS is an absolutely massive boost. Make sure to only use it when you know you can commit to a fight, or when you need the mobility or invisibility from charging it.
R: Killer Instinct
Kai’Sa’s ultimate ability is amazing for engaging and playing aggressively, 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, which helps you kite. It also gives you a handy shield to protect you from incoming damage.
One thing you’ll 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 for the shield.
Don’t forget that allied hard CC applies Plasma to targets, meaning you can sometimes ult onto someone who you haven’t yet touched!
If your team can CC the enemy carry, Kai’Sa can damage them for free and if they flash you can follow up with R to finish them. It’s important to not use R early so she can bait the enemy's summoners spells and still get the kills.
At level one you’ll want to take Icathian Rain (Q) since it’s your most reliable trading tool and can help you shove the wave. At level two, Supercharger (E) gives you much-needed mobility, which can be useful if you need to reposition, chase, or escape a gank. At level three, Void Seeker (W) is up next for the extra damage in case you get into an all-in.
As Kai’Sa you should max Icathian Rain (Q) first since it gives the best stats per level. It’s also your main trading tool and only source of additional waveclear. After that you’ll want to max Supercharger (E) since it decreases the cooldown and increases your movement and attack speed. You’ll want to max Void Seeker (W) last since it’s more of a one point wonder. Its base damage scaling is pitiful and the main thing you gain from leveling it is a lower cooldown.
As with all ADCs, Kai’Sa will start with either Doran’s Blade or Doran’s Shield. Doran’s Blade is the best start for all-ins, while Doran’s Shield’s sustain can prove to be indispensable in lanes where you’re likely to get harassed.
After that, Kai’Sa wants to ramp up an Essence Reaver core ADC build with a small twist in order to get her spell evolutions, which means starting with double BF Sword into Essence Reaver for a quick Icathian Rain evolution, followed by a Statikk Shiv into another Dagger just to evolve Supercharger, into Infinity Edge, with Berserker’s Greaves somewhere in-between when there’s a good time to buy them. Ninja Tabi is often a good option on ADCs against a lot of attack damage or assassins like Zed or Rengar, but on this build it’s not really an option since you need Berserker’s Greaves’ attack speed to evolve Supercharger. So, that’s a trade off you’ll need to consider when playing her.
After that you’ll move onto situational purchases. If they have tanks that are building armor, Lord Dominik’s Regards is essential in order to maximize your damage. If they have a lot of squishy targets and lack a frontliner, going for critical hit chance with Rapid Firecannon is the best option. If you need to go defensive, Guardian Angel is great against AD assassins. Likewise, Mercurial Scimitar works if they have a ton of AP and/or crowd control, such as Sejuani or Skarner.
Kai'Sa is not that strong early game and she can be bullied by long range ADC, such as Caitlyn
Kai’Sa’s early game is pretty weak, partly since Icathian Rain isn’t great for trading around minions. You’ll find yourself losing most matchups, so it’s important to learn how to lose lane gracefully, minimising your CS deficit while also not dying and giving the enemy free gold. If your opponent makes a lot of mistakes then that’s where you can look to abuse them if you’re good enough, but for the most part you’ll just be waiting and scaling.
If you get into an all-in situation, use Icathian Rain and Void Seeker for damage, then use Supercharger to dodge skillshots or to chase the enemy down if you’re winning. You don’t want use it mid-fight for damage since you won’t be able to auto attack while it’s charging, so save it until you actually need the additional movement speed (or charge it before if you’re predicting an enemy engage).
Minitroupax playing Kai'Sa: An example of Kai'Sa's all-in during laning phase
When you’re fighting with Killer Instinct up, Minitroupax stresses the importance of not blowing it early; wait until the enemy uses their summoner spells, and then use your ultimate to catch up to them and get the kill anyway.
Once laning phase is over, Kai’Sa is amazing at starting skirmishes in her favour or following up engages. If you see an isolated target split pushing you can throw Void Seeker towards them and follow up with Killer Instinct and the rest of your kit for a quick kill.
Minitroupax playing Kai'Sa: Picking off an isolated target in the laning phase
Kai’Sa is an amazing ADC to start a skirmish that is in her favour or to follow up engages. If you see an isolated target split pushing a sidelane without anyone around it’s really easy to W on fog of war and just follow up with R + E + Q for a fast burst damage.
Minitroupax playing Kai'Sa: Engaging and then using Supercharger to reposition
The rest of the time you’ll just want to play team fights like any normal ADC, putting out as much damage onto the enemy frontline as possible while staying alive in the process.
The golden rule for team fighting as an ADC is to just hit whoever’s closest to you. This is the key to keeping good positioning, since hitting priority targets puts you at risk of getting focused down by enemies that are nearer to you, so you’ll want to focus on taking down the closest enemies first.
Sometimes you’ll want to ignore this rule when you know it’s safe or the best course of action, but determining when it’s appropriate to do so entirely depends on the situation and you’ll have to learn to make those calls yourself.
Make sure to use Supercharger both for mobility and DPS. It’s a massive attack speed buff and the cooldown isn’t very long if you’re hitting champions the entire time that the buff is active.
Minitroupax playing Kai'Sa: Picking off the back line during a team fight
In conclusion, Kai’Sa is a unique ADC who offers a strong mid-to-late game at the expense of her early game and range. She can often be played with much more aggression than most of the ADC roster, but be careful as her short range can make that a dangerous prospect!
We would like to give a huge thank you to Vitality’s Minitroupax for taking time out of his busy schedule to help us understand Kai’Sa better, allowing us to build the best guide possible. Make sure to follow him on Twitter and tell him what you think of League's newest champion!