Caitlyn Build Guide

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GiRLSTAR's Intensely Juicy Caitlyn Guide (Now with 33% more Juicy)

written by GiRLSTAR

Caitlyn Build

Table of Contents

  • Abilities

    Every 8 attacks (attacks while in brush count as 2), Caitlyn will fire a headshot dealing 150% damage to a champion or 250% damage to a minion.

    This is a very excellent passive. While 8 attacks is a considerable amount, it is reduced to 4 while in the brush. While many players feel that this makes Caitlyn stronger in side lanes, I feel that this passive is just one piece of what makes Caitlyn a strong champion and should not be relied on as the primary source of her amazingness.

    A couple things to note;

    - Use of the brush while jungling can greatly increase the speed at which you kill jungle monsters.

    - Counting these stacks and using the "proc" to harass can be very beneficial to winning the lane.

    - Dont waste the proc on a minion that you would kill normally with your auto attack, unless it is in danger of being killed.

    - Unlike other champion abilities (Blitz's Fist) this passive does not generate additional damage to towers or inhibitors.

    - Caitlyn has 650 base range on her auto-attacks. This allows her to hit targets that other ranged champions could not normally touch from the brush. Also, be sure to utilize her long range when harassing!

    Piltover Peacemaker
    Caitlyn revs her rifle for 1 second to fire a penetrating shot which deals 40/70/100/130/160 (+1 per attack damage) physical damage. However, it deals 6% less to subsequent targets, down to a minimum of 70%.

    The mana cost of this ability increases 10 per rank from 50 at rank 1. The cooldown decreases 10/9/8/7/6.

    This is Caitlyn's bread and butter, and occasionally jam. This ability boasts an incredibly long range, as well as a 1:1 AD coefficient. While the base damage is not the highest, the long range and ability to hit multiple targets with it make it a very efficient farming and harassment tool.

    A couple things to note;

    - While using this ability will proc Sheen, Triforce and Lichbane effects, the damage will not be applied to the ranged hit. Instead the proc will affect your next auto-attack.

    - This ability has a very slender hitbox. While it is possible to hit multiple minions standing side-by-side, it is very easy to miss with this ability.

    - This ability has one of the longest ranges for a low cooldown "poke" in the game. Using this ability to harass from a safe distance allows Caitlyn to be very lane dominant.

    - Piltover Peacemaker has a fairly longer channel/cast animation. Due to this, it can be fairly predictable and easy to dodge.

    - It is unaffected by all On-Hit effects. That includes slows from Frozen Mallet, Lizard Buff, and Lifesteal effects.

    - Because Peacemaker does physical damage, it is subject to the effects of armor penetration and percentage armor penetration.

    Yordle Snap Trap
    Caitlyn sets up to two traps to reveal sneaky yordles, which trigger on champions. When sprung, the trap immobilizes the target and deals 80-280 (+.8 per ability power) magic damage every .5 seconds over 1.5 seconds.

    The mana cost of this ability is 60 at all ranks, and the cooldown decreases per rank 20/17/14/11/8.

    This is an interesting ability. It creates a trap, not unlike a bear trap with a very boob-like cupcake in the center of it. An enemy caught in the trap has their vision revealed.

    A couple things to note;

    - Placing two traps side by side can effectively block off most jungle paths, as well as the entrances to Dragon and Nashor.

    - Consider dropping your traps in the enemy jungle. An early trap or two can increase the damage an enemy jungler will take from camps. For many of the weaker junglers, this tactic can shut them down entirely.

    - The traps have a set-up time. If an enemy champion is chasing you, the time to setup is approximately how long it takes to place one at the edge of its range, and then run over it with standard move 2 boots.

    - Placing these traps on your teams escape route prior to team-fights can be the difference between living and dying for many of your teammates.

    - These traps are visible to ALL players. Unlike Teemo's Mushrooms, or Shaco's Jack in the Boxes.

    - These traps do not give vision unless stepped upon. Enemy champions standing next to them will not be revealed, even though it may appear that the trap itself provides vision.

    Here is a video of me using smart trap placement to ward off a gank from an enemy jungler. As you can see, I place it well ahead of my escape path to make sure it arms itself in time. By placing it in a bush the enemy champion cannot see where I have placed it. (plus I'm floating. yay.)

    90 Caliber Net
    Caitlyn fires a net to slow her target by 50% for 1-2 second(s). This deals 80-280 (+.8 per ability power) magic damage and knocks Caitlyn back.

    The mana cost of this ability is 90 at all ranks, and the cooldown decreases per rank 18/16/14/12/10.

    90 Caliber Net has the highest amount of utility of any ability in Caitlyn's Arsenal. Using it properly can save your life, or land you a kill.

    A couple things to note;

    - Because this ability has a very short channel time, it is possible to chain this ability together with Piltover Peacemaker for very dramatic effect. Please see the Skill Chaining section for more.

    - This ability "pushes" your champion in a direction opposite of that which you fired it. You can fire it backwards to push yourself towards the enemy champion, or away from a wall to push yourself through it.

    - While it is possible to jump through the stone base walls, this fails occasionally and should not be relied on.

    - By positioning yourself against a wall you cannot be pushed through, Caitlyn does not get pushed back. By doing this, you can leave yourself in range for further attacks while simultaneously slowing an enemy champion.

    - This ability WILL hit minions. Do not expect it to hit an enemy champion with a minion infront of him/har.

    Here is a video demonstration on how to use the net mechanic to push yourself through a wall.

    Note that not all walls can be pushed through. A good rule of thumb is that you can only go through walls as thin as the distance your champion travels using the ability.

    Ace in the Hole
    Caitlyn takes time to line up the perfect shot, dealing 250/400/550 (+2 per bonus Attack Damage) physical damage at 1400 / 1800 / 2200 range.

    The mana cost of this ability is 150 at all ranks, and the cooldown decreases per rank 90/75/60.

    There has been a lot of debate, even between Riot employees over this ability. The general consensus is that the base damage is quite low, and it has bugs. I'll try and illustrate a few of these "bugs." Many of these will possibly be corrected in the next patch.

    - This ability reveals vision on the enemy champion it is active on while it is "locked". This effect however takes a few moments to engage, and stealth mechanics and fog of war mechanics will both cancel the ultimate, putting it on a short 5 second cooldown.

    - Occasionally this ability has been seen to hit enemy cannon minions.

    - This abiltiy has been seen to "crit" however Riot reports that this is just a visual bug, and the ability does not actually crit.

    NOW, on to things to note;

    - This ability will apply on-hit effects such as Tiamat, Frozen Mallet, and Lifesteal.

    - If an enemy champion is standing in the path of the bullet, they will intercept it and take the damage instead.

    - This ability has a long channel time, and it is highly recommended that it be cast from safety.

    - It is worth noting that Pantheon's Aegis passive will block this ultimate.

    - This ability will also reveal your location to the enemy.

    - The +Damage on this ability is provided SOLELY by damage from runes, items and buffs. It does not take into account Caitlyn's own base damage.

    Here is a video that demonstrates the basic Ace in the Hole mechanic;

    (also some guy calling Caitlyn BS xD )

  • Introduction

    Welcome to GiRLSTAR's Intensely Juicy Caitlyn Guide. Perhaps this is the first guide of mine you have read, or maybe you are familiar with my other champion guides here on Leaguecraft. If you are unfamiliar with my work, this preface is for you.

    I dont intend for my guides to be the end-all of playstyles and build orders for the champions I write them for. Instead I simply wish to help provide players with a little educated insight into streamlining the way they play these champions. For those who are completely new to Caitlyn, I hope that this guide helps teach you the basic building blocks you will need to be successful and dominant when playing this champion.

    If it lends any credibility to this guide, I have watched a dozen livestreams of top 10 elo players such as Bigfatjiji and HotshotGG, and they both use this basic build and playstyle with great success. I also have not gone negative in a single real game I have played as Caitlyn so far using this build and skill order. While that does not mean much, it does mean something.

  • Summary

    Caitlyn is a very relevant ranged physical dps champion. She joins the ranks of other ranged carries like Tristana, Miss Fortune and Ashe. Like many of these champions, they can be very playstyle dependent. They require very intensive micromanagement of their movement and positioning for the most successful results.

    While I cannot teach you everything there is to learn about playing champions such as these, hopefully I can give you a little insight into the "how" and "why".

  • Is Caitlyn Underpowered?

    Since her release there has been quite a bit of debate and complaint on the forums about Caitlyn. Many players feel that her low base-damage abilities, combined with a lackluster ultimate make for a very weak champion.

    I strongly disagree with this sentiment. If Caitlyn's damage was based primarily on her abilities, yes I would say that she would be sorely in need of a buff. This however is incorrect. Caitlyn is first and foremost a ranged physical damage champion. One who has two long ranged abilities that benefit directly from attack damage scaling.

    And while the base damage is low, both abilities scale VERY well with attack damage. Piltover Peacemaker having a direct 1:1 AD scaling, and her ultimate Ace in the Hole boasting a 2:1 bonus attack damage ratio.

    I feel that Caitlyn is a very balanced champion that requires players to step into the ranged carry mindset in order to feel complete satisfaction with her. She is not many players expectations of a "sniper". She is not an ability powered powerhouse, or a physical damage mage. Expecting her to fulfill these preconceptions will only lead to disappointment.

    Instead, realize that Caitlyn is ranged carry with an extremely long range in both her abilities and her auto attacks. In many ways allowing her to both play safer and have a strong harass on par with any in League of Legends.

  • Runes

    There are many suitable rune options for a champion like Caitlyn. I will try and go over the basics of the more obvious choices and detail a starting item order.

    Caitlyn is a fairly mana-intensive champion, as her abilities are all very low cooldown and of moderate cost. Because of this, to prevent pidgeon-holing yourself in a conservative playstyle, you will need to take mana regen either in your item build or in your runes.

    Rune Option #1 - Mana Regen

    9x Greater Mark of Desolation or Greater Mark of Strength
    9x Greater Seal of Clarity
    9x Greater Glyph of Clarity

    and your choice of;

    3x Greater Quintessence of Desolation
    3x Greater Quintessence of Strength
    3x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude

    With a rune build like this, you want your starting item to be a dorans blade. You do not need the additional mana regen from a Meki Pendant, or a Doran's Ring to stay in your lane. By taking mana-regen per level runes, your mana regen will scale with your increasing ability costs as you level towards 18.

    Rune Option #2 - Attack Damage

    9x Greater Mark of Desolation or Greater Mark of Strength
    9x Greater Seal of Strength or Greater Seal of Alacrity
    9x Greater Glyph of Strength or Greater Glyph of Alacrity

    3x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude

    Because this rune build does not have any mana regeneration, you will need to take your mana regeneration in items. The best solution is a Meki Pendant starting, rushing into a Manamune for cheap attack damage. Because you do not get any health from your starting item, health quintessences are highly recommended.

    Now here are a couple things to note;

    The value of attack speed runes vary on Caitlyn. While increasing your attack speed will result in faster cycling of her passive "Headshot", attack speed does not scale with Piltover Peacemaker or Ace in the Hole. Because of this I feel that attack speed runes, while increasing your DPS, are of lower value to Caitlyn in most situations than other rune choices.

    The value of armor penetration runes becomes tricky math. Damage reduction per point of armor increases, the lower the armor gets. Because of this, the more Armor Penetration you have, the higher value it will be in pure damage increase. Unfortunately at the same time, one of the items I highly recommend on Caitlyn is the Last Whisper which provides percentage reduction. Due to the reduction mechanic, flat penetration is applied before percentage reduction. In essence, purchasing a Last Whisper devalues the effectiveness your armor penetration runes by 40%.

    Because Caitlyn's starting attack damage is so low (Leaguecraft reports 49 @ level 1), any increase of attack damage provides her with a very large increase to theoretical damage, both in auto attacks and abilities. If 30 Armor @ level 1 gives you a reduction of 23% (Armor /(100+Armor)), having 9.9 Armor Pen (3 x 3.3 quints) reduces that reduction to 17% A difference of 6%. Now if the average champion has 49 AD at level 1, adding 7 AD to 49 actually gives it an increase of 9% damage. Now lets say that armor increases to 50. A reduction of 33%. Reducing that armor by 10, decreases the reduction to 28%, a difference of 5. Attack Damage quintessences beat Armor Penetration quintessences for pure value.

    Due to Caitlyn's extra long range and powerful escape utility, she wont take a lot of damage in most lanes. Because of this, I do not feel it is necessary to stack health quintessences as well as a doran's starting item.

  • Masteries

    Like most Physical damage champions, your masteries are fairly straight forward. While I have seen both 9-0-21 and 21-0-9 recommended for Caitlyn, I prefer to use 21-9-0.

    Standard 21-9-0 Looks like this;

    External Image

    At level 1, Caitlyn only has 17 Armor, so any extra survivability you can give her will go a long ways. While the Exp masteries in utility are nice, you simply dont need the mana regen and you cannot get experience when dead.

  • Summoner Abilities

    While Caitlyn possesses moderate synergy with many summoner abilities, some are better than others. I will try and go over your options here;

    Escape Utility;

    Like all champions, these abilities can be used to escape dangerous situations. Ghost and Flash can also be used offensively, to chase down and catch enemy champions.

    Due to the short cast range of ignite, and the long range of Caitlyn's abilities and auto attacks, I find it a bit inconvenient to use. While unlike Tristana or Miss Fortune, Caitlyn does not have a healing-reducing ability, I find that the actual use of ignite on her to be a bit cumbersome.

    Exhaust can be used to keep an enemy champion slowed, as well as reduce the damage of an enemy mid you have to fight toe to toe with. Both are very strong uses, however the slow gets replaced very quickly by Lizard Buff or Phage/Mallet.

    In my opinion, Ghost and Flash provide enough synergy, offensive strength and defensive survivability to be my primary choices in summoner abilities.

  • Items

    Here are my personal recommended starting items and following builds.

    Recommend Core

    Doran's Blade
    Infinity Edge
    Last Whisper
    Frozen Mallet

    Followed by attack speed, and life steal. Often times I purchase 2-3 Doran's Blades as the health will help me stay alive early game.

    Boot choices are bit more interesting. Due to Caitlyn's immediate need for attack speed, I almost always get;
    Berserker's Greaves
    and choose to play carefully in lieu of
    Mercury's Treads

    Doran's Blade
    1x Health Potion

    After which I build towards an immediate Infinity Edge.


    Viable, but not Recommended
    [item=Meki Pendant]
    2x Health Potion

    In this build order, you are building towards a quick Manamune for attack damage. Caitlyn has 660 mana at level 18, and 200 at level 1. 2% of this, combined with an additional 1000 from Manamune will give you slightly more than 50 total damage from the item. It is essentially purchasing a non-upgradable BF sword, that solves all of your mana issues.

    Your buy order should look like this;

    Your first 1000g;
    Boots of Speed
    Tear of the Goddess

    Your next 1115g;

    After which you build your core. Note that building Manamune WILL slow your core build down.

    Let me explain a little about how I value each item;

    Doran's Blade
    The new Doran's Blade provides slightly less health, but offers a 30% increase in damage from its prior self. If the effective cost of attack damage is 415g per 10, at 435g the blade provides you with 8, as well health and lifesteal. There is no better bang-for-your-buck, especially when it comes to cheap survivability.

    Infinity Edge
    I feel that this item is core, because of the monstrous damage increase it provides to your auto attacks. Straight forward, there is probably no better attack damage item for an auto-attack based champion in the game.

    [item=Madred's Bloodrazor]
    While Madred's alone provides an equal boost to theoretical damage as Infinity Edge, the issue is that Madred's does it mostly in the form of magic damage. This magic damage is not applied on-hit with Caitlyn's spammable abilities, and having your physical damage champion do magic damage, can lead to easy defensive itemization by the enemy team. Instead of spreading their gold around with survivability, they can counter your team much more easily. I do not think this item has any value on Caitlyn.

    Phantom Dancer
    While Caitlyn has a very nice pair of "phantom dancers", purchasing the actual item benefits her quite well. Attack speed, Crit and Move Speed are all very nice. In lieu of purchasing the full item, getting a Zeal after your Infinity Edge can be a nice boost in DPS.

    The Black Cleaver
    The new Cleaver provides attack damage, increased attack speed, and stacking armor penetration. All things that Caitlyn would want. Unfortunately the armor penetration stacking will also not be relevant to champions you hit with your Piltover Peacemaker and your Ace in the Hole ultimate unless you have been auto attacking them prior. Still a decent item on Caitlyn. The investment of 1850g before you see any returns makes it fairly difficult to secure in many games however.

    Last Whisper
    Because the 40% Armor Reduction is applied to any damage done by your abilities as well as your auto attacks, Last Whisper is a definite must-have.

    Sword of the Divine
    While attack speed is nice, the number of dodge items and the value of dodge runes has decreased significantly over the last few months. A decent item if you need attack speed, and can remember to activate it. The passive is negligible.

    [item=Stark's Fervor]
    Definitely an item that is core-worthy, for all the reasons that it is good on any other champion, it is good on Caitlyn.

    The Bloodthirster
    While a fully charged bloodthirster provides a moderate (20) damage increase over Infinity Edge, it lacks the crit chance which makes IE so valuable. Lifesteal is nice, but I would value this item less than a Black Cleaver on Caitlyn.

    Frozen Mallet
    Like Kog'Maw and Miss Fortune, Frozen Mallet is probably the only core survivability you will ever need, even in a fairly drawn out game. While some players may eschew the mallet due to its low attack damage and high cost, the ability to perma-slow enemy champions allows you to control the battlefield. It allows you to chase, kite, and punish any enemy champion foolish enough to come within range of you. And on Caitlyn that range is no joke.

    The Brutalizer
    Brutalizer is a very nice item for Caitlyn, but it isnt an item that I would prioritize. For virtually the same gold, you can get a much stronger Last Whisper.. and while Ghostblade has just about everything Caitlyn wants, prioritizing this item over stronger late game items will only slow you down in the long run. A great item, but unnecessary.

  • Skilling Order

    This is the basic skilling order I always use when playing Caitlyn. While maxing your Q might be the obvious choice due to its use as a harassment and farming tool, the choice between maxing your traps or your net might not be so obvious.

    Caitlyn's 90 Caliber net is a very large portion of her survivability. It allows her to both kite enemy champions, and jump through walls. Reducing its cooldown allows it to be used more frequently and also gives you larger leeway if you should need it more often. Additionally, when chaining your skills it can provide a very solid damage increase to your skillshot.

  • Skill Chaining

    Caitlyn has 3 abilities which have channels and cast animations. With a little bit of finesse you can abuse these normal limitations, to use these abilities very rapidly in succession. Due to the inconvenience of a very long channeling time and cooldown, its less beneficial to do this with her ultimate. So instead we will be focusing on chaining together Piltover Peacemaker with 90 Caliber net.

    90 Caliber has the shortest channel of all 3 abilities. Because of this, you can use it during your channel of other abilities, to have it chain together very quickly at the end. The benefits of doing so are this;

    Both skillshots fire nearly simultaneously. If the net is in range to land, the peacemaker will land as well. This greatly increases the damage reward of landing a single skillshot.

    Chaining your 90 Caliber Net in a different direction will allow Caitlyn to fire her peacemaker at a running enemy, without losing much ground due to the channel time and animation.

    Here are two video examples of how you can chain together her abilities;

    This first video shows you how you can simply chain both skillshots together to increase your burst damage without a long delay.

    This second video example gives a demonstration of chaining the net backwards, to push yourself forward. By doing so, you can put yourself in range for a few final auto attacks. Sometimes enough to finish the enemy champion off.

    As you can see, you need to cast 90 Caliber Net while Piltover Peacemaker is charging. This might take a few attempts to get used to, but once you have it down its easy.

  • Creep Jungling

    While being a full time jungler as Caitlyn might not be the smartest idea, due to her strength in the lane.. it doesnt mean that clearing the jungle is something Caitlyn can't do. When killing creeps in the jungle, be very sure to stand in the bush as long as you possibly can.

    For virtually every camp but the wolves, there is a bush you can stand in and still have enough range to hit the creep wave.

  • Working in the team

    Like all ranged carries, Caitlyn's damage is offset by her lack of health and general survivability. This requires a player to try and stand behind teammates as much as possible, while still being close enough to do damage to the opposition. Due to Caitlyn's extremely long range, this is an easier task than on many enemy champions.

    Even so, here are a few tips that will help you succeed;

    - Ask your jungler for red buff. For almost every jungler, having red buff is a simply luxury and not a requirement. Because of the slow-on-hit effect of the Lizard's buff, being able to permaslow enemy champions from a long range gives Caitlyn a distinct advantage in both kiting and chasing enemy champions.

    - Make sure your team knows that you are playing a carry and not a utility DPS. Have them prioritize Shen ultimates, and Morgana's Black Shield to aid in your survival.

    - Dont simply bait your teammates. If you're using them as shields, make sure you're also providing the damage they need to stay alive.

    - You have one of the longest ranged pokes in the game. Be sure to use this liberally to your advantage. Caitlyn is very capable of babysitting a weaker lane partner for late game strength.

    - Your nets will save champions other than yourself. If a champion is in need of an escape, be sure to throw a net down on any chasing champions to help cover them. Just be sure you dont push yourself into a bad situation.

    - Dropping traps to block side entrances to the lane can be a smart idea. They will give your team a couple seconds warning, when an enemy is about to crash into the lane. Alternatively, dropping your traps down your direct escape route can provide your team with the few seconds they need to get away if a team fight goes south.

  • Outtro

    Thanks for reading my guide. I hope it was as in-depth as you would have liked. Like all my guides, if you find any discrepancies or any facts I have wrong, please leave a note in the comments section. If not, comment anyways!

    Credit goes to;

    Jellybean Tiz

    for their extensive help, testing, and awesomeness during the creation of this guide.

    If you enjoyed this guide, I highly recommend you check out my other guides on Morgana, Akali, Malzahar and AP Sion.

    Also; If you wish to show your support and are creating a new League of Legends account soon, I implore you to use my referral link;

    I hope that this guide helps you to master my new favorite champion, Caitlyn!

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