Kai’Sa is one of the most popular ADC picks for regular League of Legends players and pros alike.
Her kit is one of the most complex and diverse available in the game—not just on other ADCs, either. She packs more creative freedom in her playstyle than most other champions altogether. By stacking AP, AD, or attack speed to 100 (or 100 percent in attack speed’s case), you can transform her abilities to match different playstyles, opening up more possibilities for her than even Kayn.
With this quick, top-level guide, you’ll learn how to build her, play her, and hopefully not act like you’re in Bronze with her.
As we mentioned, Kai’Sa can build AP, AD, or attack speed and remain effective as long as she builds them in the correct scenarios. For instance, flat AP is best used for reliable burst damage, but full AD and crit is used for high-risk/high-reward bursting due to relying on crits. The attack speed and attack speed hybrid builds work best against teams with tons of tanks, and they put out the most consistent and reliable DPS due to her true damage passive.
Here are the best items to run depending on which build you choose, in order of effectiveness. Keep in mind that the later into a build you go, the more situational items become.
Attack speed hybrid
This build puts out the most damage by a fair margin but doesn’t burst quite as hard as the raw damage builds. By building significant stats in AD, AP, and attack speed, this build also allows Kai’Sa to evolve all three of her abilities, which is a huge benefit. The downside is that this build is extremely expensive and takes three full items to really spike.
This build allows you to evolve her Q, which amps up the amount of missiles fired. Alternatively, you can trade out Bloodthirster for Blade of the Ruined King to evolve both her Q and her E at the cost of burst damage.
This build allows for higher bursts to take care of teams with little to no tanks. It allows you to evolve her Q.
This build allows you to evolve both your W and E. You can opt to trade the Nashor’s Tooth for something with higher raw AP if you don’t mind not being able to turn invisible with your E, though. While this build amps up your burst damage like the crit build, it doesn’t rely on landing crits to be effective. This is offset by its slightly lower damage.
You want to build Beserker’s or Ionian boots over Sorceror’s Boots, even with the AP build. This is because although her abilities scale with AP, they still deal physical damage, sort of like the opposite of Corki. This renders magic penetration useless.
You have a couple options with runes on Kai’Sa because you can take different rune paths to stack certain stats, making it easier to evolve one ability over the next. We’ll only get into Keystone runes, though, because the rest are mostly situational.
Attack speed hybrid and AD/crit
Press the Attack is the best Keystone you can pick for Kai’Sa whether you’re building her for attack speed or crit. She gets the highest value from it, especially in the early game, making it so both Kai’Sa and her support deal higher damage in trades.
Kai’Sa plays more like an assassin than a marksman with this build, so you want to maximize how quickly you can delete your victims. The easy choice is Electrocute in the Domination tree.
Although she still plays like an assassin with this build, there’s much more emphasis on your abilities than your attacks and it’s easy to land three or more attacks in a short window. Just like with most AP builds nowadays, Electrocute is the best Keystone to choose.
As we’re sure you can guess by now, there’s a lot of freedom to your ability build path, too, just like your items and runes. Thanks to the ability evolution system on Kai’Sa, she can prioritize one over the others in certain games, while doing something completely different in another. As you can imagine, this is primarily what dictates the fighting style you should use in-game.
Attack speed hybrid
E > Q > W > R or Q > E > W > R
This is the only build worth stacking her E, which boosts basic attacks, because you’ll need the reliable burst damage from her Q in most other situations. You can still stack her Q first if you want. This ability build allows Kai’Sa to throw down in teamfights better than her other builds, and the bit of raw AD and AP from this build’s items keep the W and Q up to snuff with damage, too.
Q > E > W > R
This build relies on basic attacks more than the other burst builds, so you’ll still stack your E second after your Q for its high scaling and damage. With this build, you can tango in a teamfight quite as well as the attack speed build, so you want to focus on hit-and-run tactics, flanking and dodging throughout big fights without roaming too far from your support.
Q > W > E > R
The lethality build only needs to pop one or two basic attacks to trigger the Duskblade, so you don’t need to stack your E until later in the game. Focus on burst, which means putting points into your W as your second ability. This build functions a bit like an assassin, which means you’ll pretty much be sneaking and flanking the entire game.
W > Q > E > R
Again, you want to focus on burst. You want to max the W first in this build, though, because of its importance to your AP kit and its early evolution. You can max Q first fairly effectively, too, but maxing your W allows you to siege down objectives from range, which is very useful for this build.