Piltover’s Sheriff: Utilizing Her Strength - A Caitlyn Champion Guide
Tue 8th Sep 2020 - 7:00pm
One of League of Legend’s defining marksmen, Caitlyn has been an extremely strong ADC in this current meta. The Sheriff of Piltover is a great ADC to pick up if you’re looking to climb. Long ranged and easy to learn, Caitlyn makes quite the ideal ADC. In competitive 5v5s or even Solo Queue, she is a highly contested champion and is often either banned or first picked. While she does have some cons such as being not being an extreme hyper-carry in the late game as some other ADCs, Caitlyn boasts many pros. For example, she has the highest base auto-attack of any ADC, high kiting potential, great zoning potential, and consistent damage in the early and late game. If you don’t believe my words, we can take a look at the numbers! Currently, she’s not only the most picked ADC, but she also has one of the highest win rates. Her winrate is at 52%, her pick rate at 31%, and her ban rate at 48%. In this guide, we'll look at why Caitlyn is such a force to be reckoned with on the Rift.
Let’s breakdown her abilities:
After auto-attacking, Caitlyn gains a stack that builds up (six normal autos and five from auto-attacking from the brush) and triggers Headshot. There's a very noticeable audio cue and visual on Caitlyn when you have this ability. Ideally, it's smart to try to interweave normal auto-attacks from the lane and from the brush in order to build up the stack and punish the enemy bot lane. This is Caitlyn's bread and butter ability that allows her to make full use of her long-range to bully opponents. Additionally, headshot triggers, and the range is doubled when enemies walk into her Yordle Snap Trap, or Caitlyn hits them with her 90 Caliber Net. This is an ability that makes Caitlyn easily one of the strongest ADCs in the early game. By trading with early crits, it's no wonder why she's a popular pick.
Piltover Peacemaker (Q)
Caitlyn's first ability is known to work in many different situations. Whether it's to manage waves, trade, or kill, it's another ability that helps Caitlyn gain kills. Be wary, this ability does less damage per target it hits. If an enemy 2 is behind enemy 1, enemy 1 would take more damage and enemy 2 would take less damage. If an enemy steps on her Yordle Snap Trap, they will take full damage from her Piltover Peacemaker.
Yordle Snap Trap (W)
Don't let its appearance fool you, the Yordle Snap Trap is another deadly ability. It doesn't just bait yordles, but any enemy champion! However, an enemy is immune to being trapped again if they've already stepped on one. When the trap is activated, the target is trapped for a short period, can't move, and is revealed. This ability is particularly useful when champions like Twitch are trying to sneak up behind you. Caitlyn also gets a free Headshot, and the ability also grants vision of the surrounding area for a small moment. After placing the max amount of traps that she can, Caitlyn's oldest trap will be destroyed.
90 Caliber Net (E)
When activated, Caitlyn fires a net at the targeted location and simultaneously moves backward. If the net hits an enemy, the enemy is slowed and damaged. This ability is useful for either doing extra damage to an enemy champion as it also grants Headshot upon hitting an enemy. Additionally, Caitlyn can use it to get into range for auto-attacking or to use Piltover Peacemaker. Another way to use this ability is to escape! Even if you aren't trying to kill someone, you may encounter a situation that you need to escape. This ability also allows Caitlyn to go through walls as she moves backward.
Ace in the Hole (R)
Ace in the Hole is Caitlyn's ultimate ability. Caitlyn will utilize the scope on her rifle to fire a high-damage shot. It deals a lot of damage to one target that's in its range. Other enemies can block this ability from the target by standing in front of the target. If the ability is canceled (interrupted, dies, uses Flash, or target is untargetable), it is placed on a 5-second cooldown. It the bullet is fired and the target dies before they're hit, the bullet will continue. This is an extremely useful tool for finishing off a low-health opponent or dealing extra damage during laning phase. Caitlyn's ultimate can chunk out an opponent before a fight even starts. The opponent might be discouraged enough to back off, leaving you in a better situation to get objectives as a team. The cooldown also becomes pretty low at levels 11 and 16.
Flash (300 second cooldown) - Flash is a summoner spell that allows the user to instantly move to another location in the direction of the cursor when it's casted. This is the most used summoner spell due to the mobility it provides. You can use Flash to run away from an enemy or to chase down an enemy.
Heal (240 second cooldown) - Heal is a summoner spell that heals you and the ally that's closest to your cursor. It also grants you movement speed on cast. You can use heal very strategically. Not only can you use it to heal when you or your ally or low, but you can use it to bait an enemy into diving you or fighting you.
Cleanse (210 second cooldown) - Cleanse is a summoner spell that allows the user to get rid of most crowd control and debuffs. This spell does not work on suppression type crowd control (ex. Warwick's Ultimate).
The most common summoner spells are either Flash + Heal or Flash + Cleanse. If you’re going into a heavy crowd control (CC) composition or bot lane (Ashe + Morgana) it is highly recommended that you take Flash + Cleanse. If Ashe ults you, you can use cleanse to escape. You will feel more comfortable in lane knowing that you'll be able to escape if you get hit with a long-lasting CC.
To further enhance your gameplay, it's very beneficial to learn the cooldown of these summoner spells. Many opportunities are made by having this knowledge. If the enemy bot lane doesn't have Flash, it makes them more vulnerable. You can ask your jungler to gank you, or you can fully commit to a trade to kill them. The same general principle applies to them not having any other summoner spell. Knowledge is power!
Caitlyn relies on using her high range to deal damage to enemies at any given time. She excels at this, especially during laning phase. The Precision + Sorcery keystones are the ones you want to run! Please remember to change your runes and keystones to adapt to the matchup. For example, if you're going against a mage bot lane, pick MR runes.
The picture shown above is one of many types of rune page styles that Caitlyn can run.
Fleet Footwork: An ideal keystone for Caitlyn, this usually allows her to trade efficiently due to the keystone giving increased movement speed and sustain. This is great for Caitlyn to use her long range to trade without being punished harshly.
- Alternative: Lethal Tempo - This ability has just recently seen a high rise in play over Fleet Footwork. This is most likely to compensate for the lack of attack speed early since the current build is for Caitlyn to rush Infinity Edge into Stormrazor or vice-versa.
Presence of Mind: Caitlyn has high mana costs for her abilities and this keystone ensures that she's able to get some extra abilities in. This allows her to utilize her traps more often as well in order to kite the enemy. Additionally, it allows Caitlyn to have enough mana to finish off an escaping enemy with her ultimate.
- Alternative: Overheal - This ability synergizes best with Fleet Footwork instead of the other runes for that row. The combined lifesteal from Bloodline helps to keep Caitlyn well sustained during lane and in the game.
Bloodline: The lifestyle given from this rune is great. It synergizes well with Overheal and Fleet Footwork. Combined with her great range and trading capabilities, this makes for an ideal rune choice.
- Alternative: Alacrity - This rune is an alternative if you're looking to have more attack speed for your build. I still recommend Bloodline over this, though.
Cut Down: Along with her build, having this keystone against tanky opponents helps her to take them down as it does more damage to champion based on how much more max health they have than you.
- Alternative: Coup de Grace - This rune allows Caitlyn to do more damage to enemies that are at a lower percentage of health. This is great for finishing off enemies with her ultimate.
Nimbus Cloak: Despite the nerf this rune received, it's still very viable. The extra movement speed granted after using a summoner spell is exactly what an ADC needs for extra mobility.
Gathering Storm: This rune is the most ideal to take as it helps you scale into the late game.
Typically, the build goes to Doran's Blade > Infinity Edge > Berserker's Greaves > Stormrazor > Rapid Firecannon > Phantom Dancer > Mortal Reminder (situational).
However, this isn't something that's set in stone. League of Legends has over 100 champions and you'll have to change up your build depending on who you're against. Let's go more into detail about the items and talk about alternatives.
As for progression, this is a great general visual for how to build Caitlyn. Source: U.GG
- Doran’s Blade (the most common pick) + Health Potion: Due to Caitlyn's range, you'll want to utilize the damage the Doran's Blade gives you. It's a great starter item due to the extra health and lifesteal that it grants you. Overall, a well-rounded item.
- Alternative: Cull + Health Potion: You should start this if you think you'll just be farming most of the laning phase/there isn't a lot of trading.
- Infinity Edge: Usually the first (sometimes second/third) item you'll build on Caitlyn. If you've been farming well or using your range to its fullest potential, this is the item I would cash my gold in for. It gives Caitlyn a giant damage upgrade and increases her chance to critically strike, helping you to scale into the late game. Additionally, you can either build the BF Sword component first or the Pickaxe component and still do effective damage.
- Stormrazor: This is usually your second/third (sometimes first) item. It's a great item that gives Caitlyn a lot of what she needs: damage, attack speed, and critical strike chance. It delivers burst damage to quickly take down an enemy or to catch up to them with a slow from the energized auto-attack.
- Berserker's Greaves: These are the type of boots that you'll see pretty much any ADC build. It increases a champion's movement speed and gives them attack speed. You should look to complete this after your first item.
- Alternatives: Ninja Tabi, Mercury's Treads - Most lower elo players will always go Berserker's Greaves no matter who they are against. Better players know to build either of these boots when they really need to. If you noticed that the enemy team has a lot of AD damage, you might want to build Ninja Tabi for your boots. If they have a lot of AP damage or have a lot of crowd control, you might want to buy Mercury Treads.
- Rapid Firecannon: This is the item that you'll want to build after getting Infinity Edge and Stormrazor to increase your attack speed. No shocker here, but it'll grant you extra attack speed and crit chance. This will also extend Caitlyn's attack range when you get 100 energized stacks from the item.
- Phantom Dancer: Another core attack speed item, Phantom Dancer will help to cap off that crit chance at 100%. This is a great item due to the extra shield it gives you when your health is low. This is especially helpful when enemies are trying to jump on you or they have a high damage mage that's poking you from the next screen. DO NOT build this item with Hexdrinker or Maw of Malmortius as they share the same unique passive.
- Alternatives: Statikk Shiv - The meta goes between building either of these items, but sometimes you may want to use Statikk Shiv due to the burst damage it provides. You should normally take Phantom Dancer, but if you're really ahead, this is a nice item to take as it increases your attack speed and synergizes well with Stormrazor and Rapid Firecannon.
Other Items to Consider:
Your sixth item can be very dependent on the team you're against. Here are some that work on Caitlyn or that you should consider building as your sixth item.
- Mortal Reminder: This item is great for killing tanks due to its 25% armor penetration. Additionally, it's amazing for building against any character that heals. The current meta has a lot of healing champions, so you'll building this item quite often. I highly advise building the component of this item, Executioner's Calling very early in the game is you're against a healer such as Soraka to reduce their healing.
- Lord Dominik's Regards: The less popular sibling of Mortal Reminder, this item is also useful for killing tanks due to its 35% armor penetration. This is most ideal for building against a really beefy team that has little to no healing.
- Guardian Angel: It's very rare for me to build this item as I'm usually trying to output as much damage as possible. However, sometimes you'll need to build this if you think that you can get easily picked off or if the enemy team is heavily focusing you in a teamfight. It's the most effective against AD assassin's that pop you in an instant. If you want to get the full effect of these items, I'd suggest buying Stopwatch first so that you can get full use of Guardian Angel. After the passive has been used, sell the item and buy a different item since the passive is now on cooldown.
- Bloodthirster: This is a situational item that synergizes well with Bloodline and Overheal due to the amount of healing the item gives you and the shield. I'd recommend building this item if you need that extra shield to survive an assassin or a long-range mage.
- Mercurial Scimitar: This item is a must buy if you're against a heavy crowd control composition or against characters like Morderkaiser. It gives decent lifesteal and damage, but the key is the active which allows you to get out of these normally daunting situations. I recommend building Quicksilver Sash before fully building the item so that you still have the active before you build the entire item.
- Maw of Malmortius: Are you dying to AP assassins? If the answer is yes, I would pick up this item in a heartbeat. It provides AD, cooldown reduction (CDR), and magic resist (MR) which is all great for surviving. Make sure you build Hexdrinker before you fully build out this item! DO NOT build this item with Phantom Dancer as it shares the same unique passive.
Don't be afraid to experiment! No build guide is completely set in stone and different situations call for different builds. I've even heard of the spooky Lethality Caitlyn build that's fun to play but isn't the most optimal.
Typically, you'll want to max Q > W > E > R. Pretty simple, right? It's rare that you'll diverge from this ability order. Sometimes you might want to experiment and put some extra points in E before maxing out W. However, that's more of a personal choice and would be based on observation (maybe you need to use your E to escape more).
You'll want to start with your Q (Piltover Peacemaker) when you enter the lane and clear out the minion wave. The idea is to use the ability to quickly clear out the wave to hit level 2 before the enemy team's bot lane. You must try to gain level 2 first to control the tempo in bot lane and to get a leg up on your opponent. Make sure that you don't push the wave too hard as you want to keep the wave ideally in the middle of the lane. If you push the enemy under the turret, you put yourself in a dangerous position to be ganked by their jungler and it can become difficult to poke them under the turret. Additionally, if you're ever in the position to trade with the enemy ADC, definitely try to! Your range advantage allows you to attack the enemy ADC if they go for a minion. This is one of the reasons why Caitlyn is difficult to play against in lane, push this strength. Having proper wave management and being able to efficiently trade are the marks of a good ADC.
Once you gain level 2, you should try to either all-in if you're ahead or to keep harassing the enemy bot lane. Use your Q to either poke or manage the wave. Also, use your W to zone out the enemy from being able to step up to farm or to trade. Remember to also use your traps effectively. You can place them in narrow areas in a defensive manner or to place them sneakily under the turret to trick them into getting rooted. Place your traps where your enemy is going to go. There are some sneaky places such as under their turret (if you're red side) or at the ends of bushes that you could place these traps at. However, make sure you have at least one trap on you in case you need to prevent an enemy from engaging on you. If you're being pushed in, you can use your traps around your turret to discourage anyone from diving you. Make sure that you fully utilize Caitlyn's high auto-attack range in the lane to outtrade your opponents. Weave in and out of the bushes to build up your stacks for your passive and punish the enemy ADC when the step up too far. If they're going for minions, make sure you auto-attack them at the right time. You'll want to utilize your Q to either thin the wave out or to do damage to the enemy bot lane. If you need to escape or gain extra range on your opponent, use your E! If you're being really aggressive, you can sometimes get away with using E on an opponent to grant you a Headshot. Test out combos to fully understand the capability that Caitlyn has!
Sometimes this can be really tricky, especially if you're an ADC. Always remember to place yourself in a good position to do damage and try not to get caught out by the enemy team. They want you as much as you want them. Auto-attack anything in your immediate auto attack range as you position behind your team. You should never be diving into the enemy team as Caitlyn. Ideally, your team should help to get the enemy off of you so that you can output your damage. Use your ultimate to pick off an enemy that's escaping the fight or to chunk an opponent for some damage. If you're seiging a turret, place traps next to the turret to discourage the enemy team from stepping up. Sometimes, you might want to put them where an entrance is in order to see a flank. When taking an objective, zone people out of the baron or dragon pit using your traps. Also, make sure you are aware of any assassins that are trying to take you out before your team notices.
Caitlyn is an extremely powerful ADC when used properly. Even though she is easy to learn, she's tough to fully master. Hopefully, this general guide will help you in picking her up in this current meta. GLHF!