After an almost 2 month hiatus from the League of Legends pro scene due to the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus, China and the LPL are finally back and rebuilding the meta with risky picks like IG‘s very own TheShy picking Top Lane Kalista against their match against Vici Gaming. Needless to say, the former world champion played a dominant game and spearheaded his team’s victory by pushing early game leads and monopolizing lane control.
Why Top Lane Kalista?
Thanks to the buff on Hail of Blades in Patch 10.4, Kalista developed a high harass potential and can stack her Rend passive even faster which makes her Pierce ability an extreme threat when you try to approach minions for CS. Ultimately, marksmen in top lanes have always been a bane for most top laners especially those who have low mobility and terrible sustain potential.
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Top Lane Overview
The top lane matchup between Kalista and Ornn would go the way you imagine it to go. With Kalista kiting prowess and Ornn’s average mobility, TheShy was simply harassing Curse out of lane. The key takeaway here is that ThyShy was always positioning himself behind the caster minions to prevent Ornn from getting any CS and ultimately create a massive gold difference.
Despite Curse picking Kennen against the Kalista and Chieftain’s Rek’sai constantly trying to babysit Curse, TheShy was still able to establish dominance in lane. This time, since Kennen had weaker defenses, Kalista was able to attempt to kill Kennen even under tower and again create a massive gold difference before level 6.
At 10 minutes, TheShy and Kalista were able to collect all turrets plates and eventually established a 2.1k gold difference against the enemy laner Kennen. Additionally, they were already pushing for the tier 2 turret with the Rift Herald not even spawning yet.
The Item Build
It’s important to note that the Top Lane Kalista has a completely different build than it’s bot lane counterpart.
Early Game Items
Boots of Speed
Kalista’s strength lies heavily on her mobility. These items provide a great first-buy especially when against mobile enemy champions.
Not only is this needed to rush Sanguine Blade, the Vampiric Blade provides a better sustainability in lane against champions who aim to build tank items.
Serrated Dirk is your overall early game damage item. It provides a great boost to your Pierce and Rend abilities.
Sanguine Blade is Kalista’s best item (in top lane at least), gaining an additional 8 lethality and 20-80% attack speed make your opponent extremely afraid to approach you.
Blade of the Ruined King
Blade of the Ruined King is a great item in general. However, what makes this shine with Kalista is its ability to steal movement speed almost ensuring a kill every time.
Oftentimes, Kalista’s first attack can decide the tide of a fight. Being able to gain that bonus range allows her to harass you in a safe distance or initiate a fight earlier.
Mercurial Scimitar is generally used when the enemy comp has a high CC threat. This could prove helpful when getting caught AoE stuns or roots.
Edge of Night
Edge of Night is used when you have an enemy champion with high burst potential that is able to go past frontliners (like LeBlanc). This can also save you from potentially getting caught by a CC ability at the beginning of a fight.
Guardian Angel is used when you have generated a high enough lead and is expecting to engage in crucial extended teamfights in the future.
The Rune Page
Of course, as a user of the Hail of Blades Keystone, Domination provides the best rune for Kalista. Additionally, Precision provides more utility for the champion to harass the enemy laner.
Hail of Blades
Hail of Blades is the best keystone for Kalista in all Lanes. Being able to have extra attack speed means that she’ll be able to move around more and stack the Rend passive faster which creates a high kill potential for Pierce.
Kalista dashes… a lot. Gaining that extra 7 lethality just ramps up her damage stats and justifies the Sanguine Blade first item build.
Ghost Poro is used by all champions who pick Domination. This rune gives you extra damage stats and creates an extra line of vision for killing wards.
Ravenous Hunter gives you a bit of sustainability in lane when killing an enemy champion which is really good in teamfights.
Overheal ensures that getting that Vampiric Scepter early won’t be a huge waste even if the enemy laner is passive. This provides an extra line of defense and basically makes you difficult to harass.
Like we said, more attack speed means more mobility and more Rend stacks to pressure your enemy in lane.
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Jayce is able to keep up with Kalista’s range threat and can keep a safe distance away from being harassed. He is also extremely mobile and can keep up with the harass. To top it off, he can easily burst out Kalista before he can fully utilize the Rend > Pierce combo.
Matching marksman with marskman, Quinn can keep up with Kalista’s range advantage. Having the ability to blind Kalista with her Q is a great advantage to have during short fights. Kalista will think twice about approaching Quinn.
Skill Difficulty Rating: 9.5/10
While all of this really sounds good on paper, Kalista is one of the few champions with a high skill ceiling. Her passive will take a lot of practice and require fast-past mouse clicking skills. Even outside the top lane she takes a lot of time to master and you can expect to lose quite a lot of games before unleashing her full potential on the rift.