Hello fellow summoners! Cinderfang here, with my second ever in depth champion guide! I have not put out another guide since my official post Leona guide, which can be found in the directory of this section of the forums. I was browsing through that directory and noticed that there were a measly 3 guides to playing this sassy lass, and since she is my favorite ranged carry (and I'm not too shabby with the doll myself), decided to enlighten the community on the League's sniper champion. This guide will cover every aspect of game play with our top-hat wearing detective, ranging from basics to tips and tricks that might help out even a veteran player. Please up-vote and pass along word of this guide to anyone you think could use help with playing Caitlyn, as well as leave any questions or feedback on either the guide or the champion herself that you have. I will respond to them A.S.A.P. The information found in this guide comes from an experienced Caitlyn player, both in normal, AND Ranked. I will detail what I do and how I do it as best as I can, but remember that it falls to you, the reader, to put this information to use for yourself.
A sniper's greatest tool is precision, and a good guide, so let's get to it!
Innate - Head shot: Every 8 / 7 / 6 attacks (attacks while in brush count as 2), Caitlyn will fire a headshot, dealing either 150% damage to a champion or 250% damage to a minion.
Q - Piltover Peacemaker: Caitlyn revs up her rifle for 1 second to unleash a penetrating shot which deals 20 / 65 / 110 / 155 / 200 (+1.3 per attack damage) physical damage to targets in a line. It deals 15% less damage to subsequent targets, down to a minimum of 40%.
W - Yordle Snap Trap: Caitlyn sets up to three traps which trigger on champions. When sprung, the trap immobilizes the champion, deals 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280 (+60% of ability power) magic damage over 1.5 seconds and reveals the target for 9 seconds. Traps last 4 minutes.
E - 90 Caliber Net: Caitlyn fires a heavy net to slow down her target by 50% for 1 / 1.25 / 1.5 / 1.75 / 2 seconds and deal 80 / 130 / 180 / 230 / 280 (+80% of ability power) magic damage. The recoil knocks Caitlyn back.
R - Ace in the Hole: Caitlyn takes time to line up the perfect shot, dealing 250 / 475 / 700 (+2.0 per bonus attack damage) physical damage to a single target at a huge range. Enemy champions can intercept the bullet for their ally. It provides vision of the target for the duration.
As you can see, Caitlyn's toolkit is chock full of damage and utility, perfectly suited for dishing out large amounts of damage in tightly packed areas, as well as focusing single targets quickly without having to put herself in harms way. Proper use of her abilities will make your enemies fear your rifle over anything else in your team's composition. Just remember that Caitlyn, like all ranged damage dealers, is not a tank, or even tanky in the slightest.
Caity cat's Innate is one of the strongest damage steroids in the game due to it being a constant. Similar to Master Yi's double strike, it's always ready to gain a charge toward's it's next proc. What make's it really dangerous is the fact the attack on which it proc's can be a critical strike. This means you can deal 150% AD x 2 on a single hit. This obviously result's in MASSIVE burst off a single attack. It is for this reason that I include infinity edge in my build, because that item bumps the damage up to 150% AD x 2.5 on a single hit. Factor in having the damage from the item, as well one or two other AD / Crit items, and you start to see why they call it Head Shot.
Caitlyn's skill order is pretty straight forward, though I do make adjustments to fit current lane phase situations. The most common and most ease-of-use order is to start with a point in Q, putting one into W and E, then maxing Q asap with an ult rank in between, followed by her traps. However, I have been known to put two-three points into the trap earlier than this, then max Q, for the sake of reduced cooldowns on the traps. I do this if I feel I should be more defensive with their placement rather than offensive against my lane. Also, in ranked play, I always start with a point in the traps instead so I can begin setting up a zone perimeter against my opponents. If the enemy team has a good jungler (Udyr, Lee Sin, Warwick, Amumu), then I tend to place them in an evenly spaced out line with one in the brush covering the most common gank route. This lets you get a few more farm kills without feeling in danger and stops you from being ganked, as well as letting you see where their jungler goes after the trap springs on them for a bit.
Piltover Peacemaker's use is pretty simple, though there are nifty tricks and combo's even a few veteran players of Caitlyn may not know. Obviously, it is a great farm tool, as it out ranges every other ranged nuke in the game aside from globals. It can also harass enemy champions well, especially against players that suck at manual dodge. You can often cast this skill towards where they are going rather than where they are, and people will dodge into it rather than actually dodge the projectile. This baby packs a substantial punch in early to mid game play. If maxed by level 9, you can be hitting a single target for upwards of 350 physical damage. While the damage lessens per target hit, it is a great way to spread some pain across tightly grouped opponents. Just be sure no one seems to want to pounce you, as the one second cast time can get you killed when used while out of position. A nifty combo that can be done with this skill due to it's 1 second charge time is to smart cast this and immediatly smart cast either the net or Ace in the hole. It results in you looking like a pro, as well as high damage if you hit your targets.
CUP CAKES! I honestly think Riot knew people would like cup cakes and that is why they put one in every snap trap Caitlyn has, because boy do people like to walk on these things. The utility of this ability cannot be understated: free brush wards, decent magic damage, 1.5 second hard CC (Root), global range (do not have to be near them for them to stay active), and limited to three. This is Caitlyn's primary defensive option while in lane. It lets her cover a planned escape route, or prevent a potential attack route from being dangerous. You can place two in front of Dragon to discourage the enemy team from trying it. You can place them in front of Baron for the same effect. While harassing prior to a team fight, you can often place one or two behind the enemies likely escape route as a "set and forget" thing. Doing so often causes people to run away right into a trap and die as a result. You can even place all three underneath your opponents towers to stop them from keeping you off it while you blow holes in it. But you must, MUST, think of what you want to use it for in advance, and be aware of the consequences. You have three traps to work with in addition to it's cool down. Using any one of them has an immediate impact on your defense during lane phase. Weigh your options carefully: If the enemy jungler sucks or you have a counter jungler making their life hell, then you can afford to be more aggressive. If not, it's always better to stay defensive and stay ALIVE. My favorite combo with this ability is to place a trap in front of someone who is chasing me, and then smart cast a net into their face. The resulting slow lasts just long enough for the trap to spring on them, and this has often resulted in me getting a kill instead of being killed, especially if I can then combo the trap with Piltover Peacemaker and Ace in the hole. A stationary target is a dead target.
90 Caliber Net is Caitlyn's second built in, and sometimes more reliable escape mechanic. And using this build, it is also a very entertaining finisher. But not in the way you might think. As the skill states, this ability knocks Caitlyn back a good distance opposite the direction in which she casts it. As such, if someone charges you, make em eat net. The resulting slow and knock back almost assure's that they won't catch you. However, there are times when someone is just one more bullet away from a free ticket to their death screen. And this is when an interesting use of the net comes in: cast the net facing away from the target. This will cause Caitlyn to knock herself towards the opponent, putting her in range for the kill shot. It can be hard to judge if someone will die to just one auto attack sometimes, so be sure it will happen. If you have her innate ready on the next attack, then go for it for sure unless you will die in the process. It should also be noted that this skill will knock Caitlyn through walls so long as she is standing right next to them to travel through. Use this knowledge to better plan and place traps along escape routes and points of interest.
Ace in the Hole makes you look like....well....awesome. Not only does the damage this puppy deals staggering later in the game, but if you get 3-4 consecutive kills with it, the enemy morale really starts to lesson. And that is what a sniper is all about: taking out key targets to lessen combat effectiveness of their allies. The range of this ability is massive, and once rank 3 is available you start destroying enemy squishes almost instantly. The downside to this skill is the fact the bullet hit's the first enemy champion it contacts. This often means you aren't going to hit the person you want to if the entire enemy team is alive. As powerful a finisher as this skill is, it should not be wasted at the first sign of a potential kill. You must assess the situation, and make a judgement on what you REALLY think will happen. More times than not, the enemy tank is going to be looking for that L.A.M and targeting reticle to jump in front of it. As such, when the enemy team is retreating, then it's a good time to keep the enemies in range to help finish one of the poor sods off. It's also an extremely potent and hilarious ganking tool, letting Caitlyn contribute a huge physical nuke without ever even being detected or in danger. It should also be noted that if your teams clash in a lane but it doesn't seem that a team fight is likely, you can use this skill to poke someone extra hard and possibly cause them to B while you take a tower. Just be weary when doing this, as that means you give up a powerful ult should a team fight break out afterwards.
EDIT Added by gap81: One of my favorites that i didnt see directly mentioned is to hide behind the wall near an enemy tower as my team is seiging it....then when a champ gets low and is trying to back use the Q/R combo to inttrupt it and end them without ever being seen.
In team fights, things shift a bit for our sultry sniper. Her traps become pure utility and CC for her team, with the net being her main escape tool. Your job is to stay in the back and poke semi-auto's mixed with her Peacemakers to get the enemy team's health as low as possible beforehand. Should a fight break out, position yourself behind your allies and start popping the head of the nearest enemy squishy. Be wary of anyone coming at you, especially tanks. You need to burn down everyone, but you can only do this one target at a time for the most part. If you die, your teams damage out put takes a huge hit. Which usually results in that fight being lost. You must always pay attention to the situation at hand, and know when you need to just leave. Caitlyn is not the best escape artist if her planned escape route falters, and she has little ways of keeping her team mates alive aside from killing the enemy champions. NEVER use your net for it's slow at the start of a fight. This results in you being pounced and destroyed almost instantly.
Masteries, Runes, and Items:
Caitlyn's masteries are straight forward and self explanatory. I take 21/0/9, improving physical damage wherever I can, as well as improving my summoner spell Teleport. You should always strive to improve your summoner spell unless the added effect does you no real good (Example: Ignite on Talon). Also be sure to take the increase to XP gain, as leveling faster = more damage from you. These pre-game damage boosters, coupled with the right Runes and a Dorans blade to start, make farm life easy for her. They also help greatly in the harass department, as each shot you take will hit just a bit harder than people expect for a low level auto attack. The only other "viable" option is to roll straight utility, reducing cool downs and taking increased movement speed. However this hurts her in the long run, as her job is to do damage, not contribute utility outside of her tool kit.
Her runes, however, have a few options per slot. Here is what I roll, as well as what I have tested and proven to work.
Red: Armor Penetration. The armor pen is probably the most useful stat her reds can be, even over attack speed. When coupled with the Quint's and Doran's Blade I start with, it lets her hit for up to 72 damage at level 1. Against a champion. That's a lot of damage to take as harass, never mind how hard her Q is going to hit that same target early on. It should also be noted that Armor Penetration applies to both her Q and Ultimate's physical damage as well. Other options include flat damage and attack speed, but I swear by the armor pen, as well as crit chance or crit damage if you feel lucky or want to stack crit damage with your Infinity Edge.
Yellow: MP5/Level is what I use for this slot. Caitlyn suffers mana issues with out some help to her regen, and these will solve that for you. Other options include flat armor and attack speed, but if you have no mana, you have no ult. REMEMBER THIS.
Blue: MP5/Level is also what I use here. When stacked with the yellows, it literally solves her mana issues so long as you play smart and space your harassment during lane. You will not need to buy a single mana or mana regen item, which equals one more offensive or utility item for her build. Other options can include CDR (Both per level and flat), Magic Resistance, and attack speed.
Purple: Flat Damage Quintessences are used to fill the three big slots. Stacked with Doran's and your masteries, you will start the game with +20 AD. That's a significant damage boost to her level 1 Q, as well as awesome for farm / harass. The reason I do not stack flat damage with Reds on top of it is because without at least some form of Armor Pen, Armor will reduce your damage to less than with just Flat AD Quint's. I have tested this a lot. Other option's are Movement Speed, Flat Health, Attack Speed, and Armor Penetration, as well as crit chance or crit damage if you want to stack the damage increase with an Infinity Edge.
Your item order should be as follows: Doran's Blade, Doran's Blade (2nd) + Boots, BF-Sword + Zerker Greaves, Infinity Edge + Life Steal Scepter, Zeal into Phantom Dancer, sell one blade towards Blood Thirster, sell last blade towards either Last Whisper or Guardian's Angel/Banshee's Veil. This last purchase should be based on how much defense your team is providing you, as well as how well the enemy team can get to you.
There are several key reason's to build an Infinity Edge early on Caitlyn, not the least of which being her innate being able to crit. It is hand's down the best DPS item in the game, giving you 1/4th crit chance, a massive straight AD spike, and an increase to every single crit's damage you deal for the rest of the game by a whopping 50%. Because her Q and Ult's AD ratios are high scaling, flat AD benefits her greatly. But don't discount attack speed! It's all for naught if you can't shoot people over and over and over in the small time frames you will have to dps targets down. This is why you get Phantom Dancer after the Infinity Edge. The unison of these two items puts your auto attacks physical damage up with the best of them. More speed and crit chance with the Infinity Edge means more hard hitting crits more often. The movement speed bonus also helps you stay in range to attack as well as move away from the slower enemy targets like tanks. Bear in mine other dps may look to build MS boosters too, and many melee unit's pack a pounce ability (Such as Jax's Leap Strike). After these two core items, finishing the scepter you bought early for sustain into a Blood Thirster only makes your crits hit even harder, not to mention it minimizes punishment for being poked since a few auto attacks can heal you up a bit. By this point if you are doing well the enemy team is going to do their best to bring you down quick, and that is why you should consider a defensive items such as Guardian's Angel. In the right spot, this can revive you after the enemy team has blown everything they have, letting your team come in to mop up while you don't actually die. On the other hand, if the enemy team only has a small hand full of hard CC effects, Banshee's Veil can be more useful. It's health and mana increase are always appreciated, and the spell shield can stop things like Rammus' Taunt or Taric's stun, causing them to waste a cool down while you run them through your team and trap them as they try to escape.
Note: This is a standard Ranged DPS build with GA/BV thrown in towards the end. I do not follow this build religiously for her. You should always switch your build based on the opponents you are facing. Doing so will make you a better player and win you more games. Pay close attention to the enemy team's composition, and decide if you need to buy defensive items earlier than usual.
Summoner Spells: Teleport, Flash
Summoner Spells play key roles in what you want to do with your champion. Caitlyn want's to shoot people. To do that, she has to be close enough to. So Teleport fix's this. It let's her stop towers from getting pushed. It let's her pick up extra farm, which she needs. It let's her show up to team fights from across the map to mop up. It let's her gank using Ace in the Hole after she ward-ports. It's uses are amazing and help keep her tool kit feeling both offensive, and utilitarian.
Note: "Ward-Porting" is the act of casting Teleport on a friendly sight or vision ward. This reveals the ward to the enemy team for the duration of the channel, but it's still a very impressive gank tool when times properly and coordinated with your team. You can also ward-port to the following champion skills: Shaco's Jack in the Box, Teemo's Noxious Trap, Heimerdinger's Turrets, Annie's Tibbers summoned Unit, Rally's flag from summoner spell Rally. (If I missed any additonal ward-port targets, please let me know in a comment and I will add them.)
Flash is, in mine and many others opinions, the most powerful summoner spell in the game. You use flash to escape even the thickest of situations. It is your get out of death free card. When paired with her net and traps, it makes Caitlyn a less than desirable focus target, even though she is ranged dps. And make sure you always flash over a wall in some way when using it to escape. You must create as much distance when fleeing as you can, and typically, when they lose line of sight of you, you can create that distance. On the flip side, Flash can be used offensively to secure a kill while your net is on cool down. Just be careful when doing this, as you can sometimes use Flash in this manner only to not get the kill, or die shortly afterwards because you used Flash already.
Other summoner options can include Exhaust if you need one to shut down an enemy carry, Ignite for a damage boost and to counter healers (though if you do your job you won't need the damage), and Ghost for it's sheer utility usage (Both chasing and fleeing). If you know you're against heavy CC teams, you can swap Teleport for Cleanse, but never give up Flash. Better to avoid a CC effect rather than be hit and remove it, since many of them have damage attached.
Caitlyn's lane phase is straight forward. No matter what lane she is in (ideally bottom lane with a support character such as Taric / Karma / Soraka), it is your job as the ranged carry to last hit every single minion you possibly can. Farming yourself is how you win the game for your team. You trade farm for items. You use items for kills. You kill enemies to push. You push lanes to win. It's a simple math equation. Just be sure to poke your opponents using your Q and an auto in between last hit's now and then when you can to help set them up for a gank from your jungler (if you have one). You should also make an early decision on what you want to do with your traps. The cup cakes of doom can be used as effective zoning tools, especially if your opponents are fearful of you and your lane partner. On the other hand, laying three in an evenly spaced line across the enemy junglers gank route stops it completely. Sometimes it is even best to simply mix and match these two strategies. Play based on who you're against and who you're with. On your first trip back you want at least enough for rank 1 boots and another Doran's, though you may often find you have enough for an early B.F. Sword, which is far better. Just be sure to farm your rank 1 boots quickly and B for them, as you need at least this to survive mid game.
Mid game does not change drastically for Caitlyn, other than needing to show up for team fights. This is why we take teleport. If your support is doing their job (warding and ward hunting), then you can ward-port to nearby fights and help out. Other than that, you must farm everything you can. Try to help your jungler with Dragon, especially if your team manages to kill bot lane, as the enemy team is unlikely to want to even try to steal it and risk a 3v5 fight. You should have finished Infinity Edge by 20-25 mins and be working on Phantom dancer for increased crits and attack speed. Attempt an early baron if your team is doing exceptionally well, other wise call for pushes where needed and farm farm farm! Watch the map for possible Ace in the hole gank targets using teleport. A very effective means of kill securing (lol, KS joke), is to have your support CV a runners path, ward-port near them, and nuke them from max distance while no one is around to jump in front of the bullet. Poor sod's see it coming and can't do a thing to stop it. That my friends, is one heck of a hat trick. If you think it will benefit you, buy an Agility or Endurance Elixir, popping it during a team fight.
Caitlyn in the late game is where she becomes extremely deadly. By now her DPS item's are all fully purchased, and she can melt anyone who was foolish enough to not pick up some kind of Armor. Now it falls to you to shoot the nearest enemy over and over until it see's the grey screen. You don't want to put yourself in a bad position chasing an enemy squishy only to end up dead for it. Remember that you're the ranged carry. If you die, your team loses it's ranged AD damage. Push as a team, move as a team, and stay in the back at all times. Make sure you pay attention to who is getting focused in fights, and save your ult for when you are more certain of who it will hit. It can mean the difference between a win and a loss to have your ult blocked by the wrong target. When fighting at your tower, trap within it's range so enemies get pegged by it if they try to poke you and your allies. When fighting at an enemy tower, focus only on the tower. Move in, hit it, and move back out to avoid being poked. You can also trap just within it's range, or right at your feet. Sometimes enemies playing champions such as Jax or Amumu will pounce you and get trapped right outside of their tower range, letting your team punish them hard and often kill them for it, while you net them in the face and shoot them down. If you somehow manage to finish your build without finishing the game, christmas tree (All 3 Elixirs) and buy Oracles if the enemy team is warding often / has a stealther (this should be done early if the enemy stealther is doing well or you have better map control. It lets you farm the enemy wards for 25g a pop.)
Again, I thank anyone who reads this for their time, and encourage you all to please leave your feedback in a comment. More information will be added as I discover it.
Have you tried 2x PD and a BT?
I usually build her like that, and then I get a BV and I've never gotten past that yet.
Other than item choices, great job!
I'd like to add that laning with a blitzcrank can be AWESOME. Put a trap down, wait for cd, have blitz pull someone to trap, blitz knocks them up, you put another trap down, they get cced for like a good 4 seconds. I've also seen something similar with rammus, where rammus would taunt them in to traps.
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