When it comes to scaling mid laners in League of Legends, Kassadin is surely one of the first that comes to mind. While he does have a weak early game, he’s the type of champion that can carry games if he manages to get his core items.
As with all League characters, understanding which runes and items to build are a fundamental aspect to master a champion. For Kassadin, the most important thing is to avoid being exploited in the early game. To help you become a Kassadin master, here are the best builds for him in League.
There are two potential rune setups that you can go for, a defensive one and a more aggressive one:
Fleet Footwork Kassadin
Fleet Footwork: As a melee mage, you’re going to be punished a lot in the early game, especially since most popular champions in the mid lane are ranged. As a result, you need to double down and take all sustain possible through items and runes. This keystone will give you a little bit of healing to ensure you can survive the first few minutes of the laning phase. The extra movement speed is a small added bonus that can be used to chase after enemies or run away after a quick kill.
Presence of Mind: Kassadin is a mana hungry champion so Presence of Mind is a must-pick rune. Keep in mind that the mana cost on Kassadin’s ultimate greatly increases after each cast (within a period of time), so the mana pool will go down quickly in a teamfight. Presence of Mind makes sure you don’t have to deal with the issue of running out of mana, with the possibility of gaining a big chunk of it after a takedown.
Legend: Tenacity: Kassadin is a spell-based champion so the extra lifesteal or attack speed are not necessary stats. Therefore, the only effective rune left is Legend: Tenacity which might save you in nasty situations where enemies will look to lock you down.
Coup de Grace: Once he reaches his item spikes, Kassadin will be able to quickly burst champions down. The eight percent extra damage from this rune will make sure you can execute them with your combos and restore the mana with Presence of Mind.
Second Wind: We already mentioned how sustain is vital for Kassadin. Second Wind increases health regeneration when taking damage. It’s the perfect rune when facing mid lane mages with long-range spells.
Overgrowth: While it may be a weird choice at first, Overgrowth will synergize well with the new items that were introduced during the preseason (which we will see later). Having more health will also make Kassadin harder to kill and a constant menace the later the game goes.
Electrocute: This rune amplifies your burst damage to quickly take down enemies with one rotation of spells. That said, you will have to be even more careful in the early game since you will lose a lot of sustain. Go for this rune if, for example, the enemy is also a scaling mid laner.
Taste of Blood: It substitutes Fleet Footwork in terms of healing. It will be less than what Fleet Footwork provides in the long run, but it’s better than not having it at all.
Eyeball Collection: For a champion that needs takedowns like Kassadin, Eyeball Collection is perfect for him. The extra permanent adaptive force will greatly increase his damage output and it’s easier to stack compared to the other runes in the same row.
Ultimate Hunter: Kassadin’s strongest spell is his ultimate. Giving it more Ability Haste means that he will be able to spam it a lot more and a lot quicker, bringing his mobility up another tier.
Presence of Mind: Just like the other rune setup explanation, Presence of Mind is an essential rune for Kassadin.
Coup de Grace: Between this and Legend: Tenacity, Coup de Grace is more useful in most scenarios.
Bonuses: +9 adaptive force, +9 adaptive force, +6 armor or +8 magic resist (depends on the enemy laner)
Ever since Dark Seal got reworked at the end of season 10, the starting item for Kassadin lost some power, making him weaker than he was already in the early game. That said, it’s still the best pickup you can get. Getting a few assists or kills can accelerate Kassadin’s scaling, and allow him to become the carry earlier in the game. It’s also the only starting item that allows him to buy a Refillable potion, improving his sustain. It also gets refilled upon recalls, so the item doesn’t slow down Kassadin’s first core items buys.
In the latest preseason, Riot Games reintroduced one of the items that worked best for Kassadin: Rod of Ages. While it got changed compared to the old version, the item still suits the mid lane mage perfectly.
It’s the newest core mythic item that must be rushed in order to get the item stacked as early as possible. Everfrost is still fine, but it will be a situational item at best when you need some crowd control.
Make sure to buy the Catalyst of Aeons as the first recipe item which restores mana and grants some sustain to survive the laning phase. If you think you need the mobility to roam or have trouble dodging spells, consider buying tier-one boots.
In most cases, we would avoid rushing the tier-two boots since closing the Rod of Ages is critical for Kassadin’s scale and gives a much higher spike.
After rushing the Mythic item, the second core item is still the Archangel’s Staff. The item received major changes at the end of the last season, eliminating the active effect with the shield and no longer refunding mana on a kill. As a trade-off, the item’s cost was heavily reduced from 3000 to 2600 gold. For a scaling champion like Kassadin, the cost reduction is great. Getting the full item earlier and evolving it into Seraph’s Embrace allows him to get the power spike.
Remember to always get the Tear of the Goddess as soon as possible to get some stacks on the item. You can either buy it right after closing the Rod of Ages, or even after the Catalyst of Aeons.
In the meanwhile, if you’re snowballing hard, you can purchase Sorcerer’s boots for the magic penetration and greatly increase your burst damage.
Following these three core items, you will decide on your fourth buy depending on the game state. Zhonya’s hourglass is great if the enemies have a lot of physical damage and you need the active to bait engages or get away from nasty situations. If you’re well ahead, however, you can consider rushing Rabadon’s Deathcap to get loads of ability power and become a one-vs-nine machine.
Regardless of the other, you’re expected to have both items in the build. To round off, there are quite a lot of options for Kassadin. Against tanks or enemies with lots of magic resistance, Void Staff will allow you to shred them if you have enough ability power stacked.
Lich Bane can also be a great way to get better burst damage, especially if you’re running the Electrocute rune setup. Remember that Kassadin’s W is an auto-attack reset, allowing you to quickly proc the keystone rune with an R-Q-W combo.
Otherwise, Banshee’s Veil can also be a good choice when facing abilities that can lock you down. Remember to not buy the item solely for the extra magic resistance since Kassadin has a magic damage shield in his kit.
Below is an example of a full Kassadin build: