This is a follow up guide for my article about why kassadin is just as good as 5.3 even after all the changes from 5.4 and following patches. If you haven’t read it check here:
This guide is mostly focused on mid kassadin but he can work toplane as well, just a lot harder.
1. Runes and masteries setup
My base setup
For runes I prefer: mp marks, armor or hp per lvl seals and mr, mr/lv or cdr/lvl glyphs. With as quints just flat ap for that extra punch during the lane phase.The cdr glyphs are great against an ad matchup and ap matchups that don’t pressure you too much otherwise I really recommend. mr glyphs or laning will be harder.
Don’t go utility masteries, the extra tankiness is really vital for trading and harassing in lane and team fighting. You won’t have mana issues in lane with your w even early on. The feast masterie in offense is just a preference, I like it for the extra bit of sustain and mana regen in lane together with doran’s ring. Full 5%cdr is probably the best together with the cdr runes. The rest is not really up for debate.
Summoner spells: you only go ignite and flash or TP if you play toplane.
2. Early laning phase
I always go Doran’s ring over Flask for more lane pressure and better mana regen. Flask is only good for more sustain: 360hp + 450 hp and 180 mana. The health sustain is great with flask but you will regen more mana with a doran, definitely if you lane for a long time without backing. The total health value of doran plus 2 potions is only 360 but the extra AP will make your harassment stronger and increase the shield of your q which directly results in more hp if you use it effectively.
TL:DR kill threat and farming is easier with a ring, safe laning and sustain is better with flask.
Basic skill lvl up against AP matchups, table from Lolking.net
Always start Q then W. (more of that in champion matchups). Short version: max Q against AP champs and E against AD or when you need early waveclear.
Early laning is very basic, just spam Q at the enemy from lvl 1. If the opponent can trade back make sure to trade at the same time so you absorb the dmg with your magic shield. The moment you hit 2 you just start using W whenever it’s up on a minion. At 3 just pick Q again for more harassment or E if you’re getting pushed in/playing against AD.
You want to farm up as long as possible or at least until you have enough for a blasting wand/catalyst. Always be aware of jungle pressure before you’re 6. Boots are overrated and don’t buy extra dorans to make the laning easier. The longer you stall your RoA the longer it will take to be effective. Catalyst for more sustain in lane and if you are expecting a lot of jungler pressure. Blasting wand is again for more kill threat. Same thought process like flask vs doran.
3. Laning after 6/roaming
One thing you always have to keep track on is your ult counter. Don’t use it more than twice to go back in lane or you won’t be able to use it to harass or participate in skirmishes/fights. Laning becomes much easier and stronger for kassadin after 6. Now you want to constantly look to harass your opponent by ulting in and using Q + E. Use W as well if you can but it’s safer to stay at a long range while harassing. Try and ult in while dodging spells or if your opponent used spells on minions. This will make trading very easy and punishes your opponent.
Always try and buy wards (pinks and greens) to cover the river for enemy jungle movement or to see your lane opponent go roam.
Basic ward placements when you’re just laning.
When you don’t think you can kill your opponent in lane because he got too strong, plays very defensive or just because of jungle pressure, push the wave and try roaming top or bottom. Top is most of the time the easiest to gank, less wards and they expect it less. But you don’t have much dmg early to deal with toplane tanks so you don’t want to waste time ganking a Teemo that doesn’t help you kill the enemy Maokai. Even with only 1 or 2 items your dmg will be relatively high to gank the botlane, you outlevel them and they are mostly built squishy. So roaming bot increases your kill chance but you have to avoid the wards. Make sure your bottom lane is ready for it so you don’t end up in a 1v2 or even 1v3.
2 Things to note:
Make sure you have E up or at least 4 to 5 stacks on your counter.
Avoid using riftwalk before you go roam or even while roaming. You want all your mana to keep chasing while you’re fighting. Getting to the fight quickly but not having mana to ult more than once is not ideal.
4. Item build
Kassadin’s build path can’t be altered much but I’ll discuss all his relative items.
- Rod of ages: All you need item for Kassadin, it has a great built path, gives you sustain in lane, tankiness and a big mana pool.
Kassadin is a manapool-based champ: His W works with % missing mana and his ult has an increased mana cost. In contrast, Orianna is a manaregen champ that survives perfectly with mana regen items like Morellonomicon to keep using her spells.
- Merc threads or Sorcerer shoes: Sorc shoes is your standard “get more damage” item that you’ll buy in most games. Don’t ever buy them before finishing your RoA!!!
Merc threads are recommended against heavy CC comps or champs with very long CC like Rammus, Fiddle, Veigar. You don’t want to build banshees or Quicksilver sash so mercs are a great alternative together with hourglass to survive chain CC comps.
- Zhonya’s Hourglass: If your opponents pay attention to you in teamfights you want this item fast. Your teamfighting completely changes when you finish it. You can be more aggressive and play more on the frontline, even engage fights on your own. You want to use it after riftwalking in to give your abilities time to reset or just use it to bait out spells.
- Deathcap: It gives more AP, buy it if you want to snowball harder.
- Void Staff: Buy it whenever multiple opponents are building MR. Even if their tankline has a lot of MR but their backline has nothing just prioritise Deathcap first. Your job is to kill the backline and clean up fights. Unless the tanks are a threat you can delay the void staff to a 4th item.
If you have money left
- Lich Bane: Perfect last item, it enhances your W dmg, makes you able to oneshot any squishy targets, increases sustain dmg and makes you a great splitpusher/towerpusher. When you got this you have an excuse to riftwalk in place to get a lich bane proc.
- Luden’s Echo: Warning: If you haven’t bought the other 2 Large rod items then buy those first. Now if it’s risky for you to riftwalk into melee range or you just want some extra poke while your adc destroys the turret you can buy this item. In pretty much every other situation lich bane is a better choice. This is also a solid 6th item if you want to sell your boots and just go nuts in damage but I would still recommend a more defensive item then.
- Abyssal Scepter: Most of the time you can avoid this item since you trade with Q shield in lane and the shield helps you against heavy magic damage. But it’s great if you’re dealing with high AP comps or just pure bursters like LB, Kat(to avoid resets), Veigar,.etc. The item is very solid in dmg and defense so you won’t miss anything. If you buy it it should be before a deathcap and maybe even hourglass. I put it here since it’s not a core item but it’s very strong in certain situations and matchups.
- Mejai’s Soulstealer, if you really want to snowball early you can surely buy this. It’s cheap and is the best flat AP item when you have 20 stacks plus the cdr also helps ofc(don’t buy it for that tho). You can even get it while you’re building RoA but in general this item is just a gamble and puts more focus on you since enemies don’t want you to get 20 stacks.
- Upgrade your trinket whenever you can after 9. Sweeper is prefered and if you want to upgrade your boots go for alacrity for a bit more MS.
Why not these
- Archangel/Seraph’s: Yes Kassadin likes mana but he also likes to be tanky so RoA is always a superior first item for him, If you go both you will delay your powerspike even longer and he is already a slow/medium scaling champ. His lategame scaling is insane but you want to have impact much sooner. Seraph’s has that shield and a bit more AP when fully stacked but the built path is not that great (Catalyst > Tear) and it takes longer to become strong. Both items stack at a similar rate but RoA is useful from the moment you buy it, Archangel is only strong when it’s finished.
- Morello/Athene’s: Already mentioned this, you want mana not regen and it’s not worth just building them for the CDR.
- Icebourn Gauntlet: Lich bane is just a better dmg version of this item, you don’t need extra slow with a <2s flash. If you have enough dmg to one shot the adc or ad assassins you don’t need more armor. (you’re still an AP assassin)
Maybe against a full ad comp with a lot of poke it’s decent but you probably shouldn’t pick Kassadin then.
- Rylai’s crystal sceptre: No
- Liandry’s Torment: No, kill the backline first then lichbane the frontline.
Kassadin shines in jungle fights where he has a lot of walls to jump over and hates open lane fights. Always look for an opening to dmg the backline or pick off squishy targets like the support.
Early you just want to dmg anyone who is close since you’re low on dmg and enemies aren’t that tanky yet. (Prioritise the biggest threats)
Stay close with your team and help them clean up fights by chasing with ult and slowing with E. When your abilities are on CD don’t stay in melee range, just stay at the edge of the fighting until your abilities are back up so you’re ready to jump in. Avoid spamming ult, it’s a big deal if you can reset your ult stacking before a new fight breaks out.
Always look to pick people off from over a wall/edge (vision is very important, make sure you’re not in a warded area!). Later in the game you just want to “tunnelvision” a bit on the backline, and look for moments to poke when both teams are circling around each other. Stay outside of poke range until you see a chance (somebody overextending/cc used) to ult in and quickly Q+E before floating back to your team.
Never back away from a fight even when you’re quite low, always look for the opportunity to re-engage and pick people off with a good riftwalk.
Avoid these when possible, you will have a bad time. Most of the time you want to max E against AD matchups for extra slow and waveclear so you can quickly push and roam. The magic dmg shield from Q is useless anyway.
- : buy Flask or Cloth Armor, stay healthy just try and farm it out, his kill threat on you at 6 isn’t that big since you can ult away from him but don’t ever take them lightly and avoid poke at all costs. Try and pressure on the map, don’t 1v1 him you won’t be able to for a long time. Get RoA and then rush hourglass (avoid boots upgrade)
Best advice to beat him: ban him.
- : Similar situation as Zed, just stick behind your minions, avoid all q poke, survive lane. When you scale up you have better kill threat on him but he will push and poke hard early. It gets better after 6 but just max e and try to stay even in CS
- : This is the one lane that isn’t completely crap for Kassadin. Let him push in early, avoid early harassment since you can’t trade back very effective. Remove his shield with lvl 1 Q and then E for harassment. When he comes close use AA plus W reset for some good dmg but in general try and stay out of his range and just harass with Q and E. You outscale him pretty easy, same built as Zed and you’ll start winning very fast.
- Weird picks, if they throw something odd at you like pantheon, you should just laneswap and go top, you can’t win without help and kassadin is a fine toplaner as well.
This is where kassadin shines, he has very few bad matchups but let’s go over most anyway. Kassadin has great scaling so even if laning doesn’t go too great, don’t panic and trust in your champ. (Ordered alphabetically)
- : Solid matchup, just want to avoid the Q’s. You can’t trade with her true dmg so go for Q trades with her w or just if she missed her Q already. Avoid a lot of AA harass from her and don’t be too cocky early. Q whenever you can but her overall health sustain and pushing power gives her an edge in the early laning. Stay safe and farm up it gets easier after 6 when you can start harassing by riftwalking towards her. You outscale her heavily so be patient if they run multiple AP threats you want to consider and Abyssal after RoA or your DC.
- : Fairly easy with all her nerfs, spam Q also use AA plus W and you’ll outlast her NP. Don’t underestimate good Akali players, she still hurts but you’re in a heavy advantage.
- : Fairly safe trading early just avoid the stuns. You have low kill threat on her alone because of her passive so just farm up and maybe pick some extra points in E early to push back when she is 6. Just pressure her and make her lose CS early. Don’t get greedy for a kill when her egg is up and you have no backup.
- : Trade Q for Q like usual, avoid her stuns and know she has less CD on Q so backoff if your Q is on cd. Annie will just try and cheese you with a lot of dmg so Abyssal is recommended.
- : Very good matchup, avoid early harass early, try to not get pushed in. Pick some extra points in E early if that’s a problem. You outscale him and can just melt his HP bar very quick while he has to AA you a lot.
- : Not easy, Q minions if you get hit by the passive to block the DoT. Avoid the pillar of flame specifically, use ult if needed. Boots help to dodge it early so getting quick tier 1 boots is recommended. An earlier Hourglass is great to absorb his ult and will often be more useful than Abyssal.
- : Very nasty early, just let her push and farm from a distance with Q. Trading with her is super hard unless you can dodge the poison which is hard since she has 2 spells to apply them. Openings for harass is when she uses both her poison spells or uses twin fangs on a non-poisoned target. Preferably wait for 6 if you want to try a kill and always turn backwards when ulting in. If you get stunned by her ult you’re dead. Merc Threads recommended if there are one or two extra CC champs in her team.
- : He has so much sustain that harassing him is just a waste, pick extra points in E so you can match his pushing. Just CS and try to roam or pressure when you have some AP. It’s hard to trade with him so if you’re taking dmg just don’t and farm up. You have more mobility so abuse that and gank before him and dodge his spells. Avoid his silence at all costs or you’re toast.
- : Just poke from a distance and avoid her Q harras. Don’t get baited into AA dueling with her, her shield and passive will win her those trades a lot of the time. She isn’t too scary early but when she hits 6, her dmg will be higher than yours. Your ult is just for mobility, she gets a lot of extra burst with hers so you want to avoid the Q at all cost. It’s hard to burst her down since she’ll rush an Abyssal pretty early, just poke her down and avoid getting baited into an all-in. She has double shield and a lot of burst. Abyssal recommended if you want to beat her in 1v1.
- : Very annoying since he can avoid all your burst with his E. Don’t use both spells simultaneously when you’re engaging unless you know E is down. You’re laning shouldn’t be that hard if you use your Q wisely and AA him with W when he gets close. Avoid long AA trades since he’ll win that with his W.
- : Not fun at all. If you can’t trade just make sure you Q minions to avoid his harass. Try and bait out his W so you can harass him afterwards. You should be fine in farming and just try to scale up. Your kill threat on him is superlow without jungler help.
- : Turrets are a bitch, he’ll push and keep you under the turret. just max Q and avoid rockets. Don’t be too aggressive early, just farm and wait for ganks if he keeps pushing or just roam. Ulting into 3 turrets is just what he wants.
- : Harass when possible, just avoid getting caught by his wall and just way him down. This matchup is pretty easy, avoid exhaust range when you poke and ward your flanks for junglers.
- : Very easy, just harass with everything you got, you can interrupt her ult with your Q so keep that in mind.
- : Play safe, you can out harass her with lvls just avoid long AA fights and always mind the ult when you all in. Pickin E at lvl 3 isn’t a bad idea to keep her at a distance.
- : Easy trades, just stay behind your minions and harass with Q. Ult out of his ult so don’t go in for W harass just stay at range with Q and E. Easy matchup that you outscale, might want to get Mercs.
- : You’re a counter to her but don’t be fooled early. Always Q when she jumps towards you to block the dmg or she’ll just wait out the shield. If you use Q for just harass and not trading move backwards to avoid counter aggression. You won’t need an Abyssal unless you fall behind. Mind the snare when you ult in for harassment.
- : Easy trading against her Q, just remember it’s a low cd so back off until your Q is back up. Don’t go into melee range you don’t want to get snared and get all her spells on you. Just scale up and you shouldn’t have much issues with her. Be aware of her CC chain with jungle help so ward your flanks and always think she might use her E to surprise you.
- : Avoid AA harass, she has low kill threat on you so just poke away, avoid the glitterlance (mind her pixie on minions). Don’t ult to close to her so she can’t knock you up with wildgrowth. Pressure other lanes if she’s playing really safe, it’s hard to kill her after 6 if you aren’t far ahead.
- : Never stand between your minions, trade effective and avoid bindings. This matchup is completely in your favour after 6 but mind the double shield.
- : Avoid the silence, just let him push in early, farm under turret and make sure you never stay on his null zone when he is 6. You can interrupt his ult with Q but it’s very tricky to time when you’re 1v1. Don’t ever poke him when he’s not alone or you’ll just die from his ult. Make sure you have backup. QSS or Banshees isn’t a bad idea if he focuses you a lot.
- : Just trade Q with his E, he’ll push in so just farm under turret. When you get some dmg and mana you can start harassing. Try and harass him before he gets a big shield with his passive. Don’t underestimate his ult healing so always ignite early if you go for the kill.
- : Just make sure you stay behind your minions early and dodge the bindings. You have low kill threat on her so just farm up and harass if you can but she’ll push you in hard. If she is next to you, you can’t ult away from her ult so make sure you hit your slow first so you can walk away after ulting.
- : Very easy in lane, just harass whenever you can and stick behind your minions to avoid the spears. Mind the traps and use W and E if she tries to harass you in cougar form. As long as you avoid spears and traps this lane is a breeze.
- : Not the easiest lane early, good players will just lvl up shield and harass you with AA. Just Q when the shield is down and stay back. Even farm with Q if you’re having problems. Flask is a good idea if you just want to survive until 6.
- : Harass a lot early avoid long trades in later lvls just poke and back off. Don’t let him get multiple spell rotations in and avoid E harass. He is quite vulnerable until he builds MR so hammer away when you can.
- : Avoid the snares, trade Q with his DoT ability. You have slight kill threat early but his dmg is very strong as well. After 6 you can only keep poking and hope to get him low enough for an ignite all-in. Try and go for melee trades when he just turned of his ult, it will go on cd for about 8s then.
- : Very strong, will push and pressure a lot early with low CD Q. Time your harassment and mind the spheres on the ground for stuns. You’ll outscale her eventually but an Abyssal is recommended to avoid big bursts or just an hourglass to absorb the ult.
- : You’re a strong counter. You can harass him a lot early without much counterplay. Your Q can interrupt his ult so ward the river and follow him, don’t let him just gank your sidelanes for free.
- : Harass him, don’t let him farm, consider an Abyssal to make his live hard and make sure to get Merc threads.
- : Pretty nasty lane, make sure you don’t get hit by 3 stacks. Remember that his rift explodes so don’t walk into it after dodging. Biggest thing you need to avoid is the knockup since that sets up his combo with W and ult. You can interrupt his ult with Q. He is very squishy so you’re kill threat will increase the more items you get just don’t underestimate his dmg.
- : He has a lot of burst but is squishy ofc. Just avoid lasers in lane, you can trade with his Q pretty well if you can avoid the AA. An Abyssal is definitely recommended if you’re not doing to hot in lane.
- :Most will run flash/ghost so his kill threat on you is super low early. Just harass whenever you can and try to time Q for Q. Always ignite before he pools if you go for the kill. Until he has spellvamp, he can’t out-sustain your harassment. Don’t be afraid to go into melee after 6 and just punish him with your burst. Just ult away if he tries to go in with ult, don’t underestimate the added dmg.
- : Early boots help for dodging his spells. Avoid his stuns and W so he can’t land easy followup spells. Play fairly aggressive and next to your minion wave so he can’t harass and farm at the same time. Always juke sideways if you want to dodge the Q never run away. He is mostly a safe laner so you’ll want to roam or get jungler help for a kill.
- :One little bitch, never stand close to your minions or they’ll just explode his bombs on you. His AA harass is very annoying so avoid the passive procs when possible. Pressure when you can but avoid the satchel charge if you want to get a kill. Don’t buy an Abyssal but just try and survive early laning.
- : Very squishy, easy to trade with. Just don’t get hit by the snares and spamm Q whenever you can and mind the plants. Easy to kill the later in the game.
Thanks for reading. Thoughs, comments or need extra advice? hit me up on twitter @antdrioite or put your questions in the comment section below.
special thanks to
@brayllcs for helping me with editing my images and @ HanzoKurosawa for 1v1’ing me.