[Guide] statikk's Take on Kassadin the Voidwalker

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RiotStatikk

QA Analyst

08-02-2010
1 of 46 Riot Posts

*** These are all my personal thoughts and opinions and in no way reflect the opinions/ideas of Riot or The Council. ***

Hey LoL community,

I've just begun my blog series for Runeterra and have started off with a concise sort of mini-guide on how to build and play Kassadin. I will be focusing on the various roles in LoL and will be featuring more champions in the coming weeks so if you guys have requests go ahead and shout them out in either of these threads.

Feel free to skip the intro of the Runeterra version if you're uninterested and just want to see how I personally build and play my Kassadin that has secured me many wins (many times single-handedly carrying games) at the top Elo bracket.

I highly recommend viewing the Runeterra version as it's a lot easier on the eyes.

Hope this was useful and/or enjoyable.
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Current Compendium of statikk's Guides:

Know Your Role: Runeterra or LoL Forums
Kassadin, the Voidwalker: Runeterra or LoL Forums
Udyr, the Animal Spirit: Runeterra or LoL Forums
Dr. Mundo, the Madman of Zaun: Runeterra or LoL Forums
Sona, the Maven of the Strings: Runeterra or LoL Forums
Vladimir, the Crimson Reaper: Runeterra or LoL Forums
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Let me preface this by saying that these are only my personal suggestions and recommendations. Feel free to add your own spice to the mix as guides should not be treated as infallible rulebooks and rather should be taken as mental starting points that provoke analytical thought.
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Kassadin, the Void Walker
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Spells

Null Sphere (Q): Single-target, magic damage silence that scales with Ability Power

Nether Blade (W): Passive mana return on strike and active armor penetration buff

Force Pulse (E): Cone, magic damage slow that is fueled by nearby spellcasts and scales with Ability Power

Riftwalk (R): Short-ranged teleport with circle AE magic damage (at destination location). Mana cost and damage rise if cast in quick succession. Scales with Ability power.

Void Stone (Passive): 15% magic damage reduction and increased attack speed when receiving magic damage
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Suggested Role - Ganker / Semi-Carry

Immediately we see that Kassadin is well-suited to be an AP-focused magic damage ganker due to the fact that he has a 3 nuke burst combo and a built-in Flash to engage and escape from enemies. He is a burst caster champion with an anti-caster twist. Although Kassadin lacks a stun, a silence + slow is almost as strong. The reality is that because Kassadin's damage is funneled through primarily 2 spells (Null Sphere and Force Pulse), he reaches his max burst peak at around level 11 which he can use to snowball the game towards victory.

Nether Blade and Void Stone seem a bit out of place but they give Kassadin some well-needed self-sustainability and bonus damage. Although many may be tempted to build Kassadin as a hybrid/physical carry, Kassadin is squishy and often lacks the survivability (especially in big 5v5 teamfights) to stay in melee range and take down targets. It is more often than not best to focus on Kassadin’s ability to burst a target and get out of the fray which is most easily and effectively done with an AP build.

As a ganker (or what Riot likes to call an assassin), Kassadin's job is to gain early levels (hop[efully in a solo lane) and then use his burst potential to constantly and consistently pick off vulnerable enemy champions. He is great at disrupting enemies and ending the game before the enemy team (primarily their carries) can get off their feet. In team fights, Kassadin's job is to pick a vulnerable and hopefully high priority target (ie: Ashe, Kayle, Shaco) to focus and explode as quickly as possible. This is ideally followed up by an escape and then a rinse and repeat until the team fight and eventually the game is snowballed into a victory.

Due to the way Ability Power allows casters to scale into the late game, Kassadin can also be somewhat considered a semi-carry (as opposed to a hard carry) if he gets sufficiently fed through the earlier phases of the game (but this is honestly the case for the majority of champions in this game). This carry aspect of Kassadin comes purely from his extreme hero killing power and mobility which allow him to pick off enemies while disallowing enemies to pick him off. But in terms of pure carry potential, Kassadin does not scale nearly as well as other typically physical auto-attack based champions such as Shaco or Master Yi. At the end of the day, Kassadin is not a champion that can hope to farm all game and then completely dominate and take over late game -- he needs to get ahead of the curve and stay ahead of the curve if he wants to successfully "carry."

The bottom line is that Kassadin is a great pick against a team that is vulnerable to burst damage especially if they are caster-heavy. A team with many squishy (low HP) champions is ideal since Kassadin will be able to pick off 1 or more of them in a single swoop and repeat as much as necessary. If you see a lot of tanky (ie: Singed, Mundo, Shen, Olaf) or support (ie: Taric, Soraka, Morgana) champions, you might want to look elsewhere.
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Runes

Marks of Insight (magic penetration)
Seals of Clarity (mana regen per level)
Glyphs of Force (ability power per level)
Quintessences of Fortitude (health)


Magic penetration increases burst potential. Mana regen per level runes give you early game viability and allow you to (somewhat) neglect mana items. Ability power per level runes once again give you more burst potential. Health quints give you a better chance of surviving Kassadin's weak early game.
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Summoner Spells

Ignite: increased burst potential which is strong for any ganker especially early game
Ghost/Flash: increased mobility to help finish kills or escape sticky situations when Riftwalk is not an option
Cleanse: Kassadin’s primary counters are silences and stuns which Cleanse takes care of
Clarity: Kassadin has large mana issues that if not taken care of by items must be offset by Clarity

My personal preferences are Clarity and Ignite.
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Masteries

21 points in Utility (notable points: Meditation, Utility Mastery, Intelligence, Presence of the Master)
9 points in Offense (notable points: Sorcery, Archaic Knowledge)

Utility is great mostly for the extra mana regen and increased uptime on Ancient Golem buff. The cooldown reductions also don't hurt. Archaic Knowledge is a no-brainer for any offensive caster.

Do not forget to grab upgraded summoner spells if possible.
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Spell Build Order

Null Sphere > Force Pulse > Riftwalk > Nether Blade

Of course always pick up Riftwalk at 6. Avoid putting an early point into Nether Blade or even a second point into Riftwalk as this hurts your burst potential. You might consider leveling Force Pulse ahead of Null Sphere if your tower is being pressured and you need to clear creeps.
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Item Suggestions

In my experience, there are two primary ways of thought on building Kassadin.

The first build focuses on pure AP burst ganking potential based around Mejai’s Soulstealer. This build is riskier and relies on smart, early, active play in order to get kills/assists to stack up the Mejai's without in turn dying yourself. Skillful mana management and picking vulnerable targets are necessary to make this build work. Tanks and healers are not only counters to Kassadin in general but even moreso to this specific build. Also note that I highly recommend bringing Clarity if going this item build. Use this build at your own discretion.

Burst Caster Build:

Doran's Shield - Mejai's Soulstealer - Sorcerer's Shoes - Haunting Guise - Zhonya's Ring - Guardian Angel

The second build focuses on being more of a tanky carry AP battle-caster based around Rod of Ages. This is a mid/late game oriented build that requires a bit more farm but can still be effective. These items allow Kassadin to stay and spam spells in the heat of the battle while also offering him strong burst potential. It's a much safer and more manageable build in all respects. I would definitely recommend this for those who are just beginning with Kassadin or who are just not confident going for Mejai's.

Tank Caster Build:

Doran's Shield - Rod of Ages - Sorcerer's Shoes - Haunting Guise - Zhonya's Ring - Lich Bane

One thing to never forget is to counter your enemies’ item choices and team composition. Sometimes it is necessary to veer from your intended build in order to perform at maximum potential. Do not neglect Void Staff or Deathfire Grasp once the enemy team starts getting too much Magic Resist or stacking health respectively and don’t be afraid to consider defensive items such as Banshee’s Veil to counter one-dimensional teams (ie: enemy team has all magic damage and no physical damage output). Mercury's Treads is also key to victory against any team with strong CC capabilities.

Notable Situational Items:

Void Staff - Deathfire Grasp - Banshee's Veil - Abyssal Scepter - Mercury's Treads

Note: Remember, be flexible and adapt. There's no need to strictly follow any set build. Mix and match in order to find something that suits both the situation as well as your playstyle.
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Miscellaneous Tips

  • Early on before Riftwalk at level 6, Kassadin is a vulnerable target. In this phase, try to for the most part play passively only using Null Sphere and Force Pulse to punish enemies without health regen and instead focusing your efforts on killing creeps and surviving to gain those critical early levels.
  • Be weary of using Force Pulse before a critical gank or teamfight as it does need spellcast charges to activate. At the same time don't be afraid to use it to clear creep waves if you know you will probably build a new Force Pulse before the next engagement.
  • Refrain from casting Riftwalk back to back too often. Instead wait out the debuff when possible.
  • As a mana-intensive champion, try to control the Ancient Golem buff. Ask your teammates for help if you are unable to solo it


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DayInTheSun

Senior Member

08-02-2010

I've been wanting to pick up a caster and Kassadin seems like a pretty underrated one that I can easily snag with the 4th-5th pick. I know a lot of people like Tear of the Goddess as well to maximize his mana pool for rift walks but you made no mention of it in your mini guide. What do you think about Tear/Archangels on Kass?


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RiotStatikk

QA Analyst

08-02-2010
2 of 46 Riot Posts

Tear/Archangel's is for the most part a weak choice on any champion. It gives you mana great, but often times (especially in high tier play) you will either have died or have made your kill before you can really take advantage of that big of a mana pool. Grabbing such an item slows your climb to power and that is crucial considering that Kassadin hits his peak in the mid-game (although he is definitely still powerful late).

Basically, if you are worried about your mana pool I would definitely recommend going for Rod of Ages and/or Sheen -> Lichbane instead. Also remember that Clarity, managing your positioning/Riftwalks, and controlling the Ancient Golem buff can help remedy the problem in the first place.


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Ebonclaw

Senior Member

08-02-2010

How is it a weak choice? Archangel + Zhonya's will give you more AP than any other combination of 2 items, as well as massively expanding your mana pool so that you can take greater advantage of your CDR and highly spammable spells.

I'd accept if you said that in the top 100 (impressive, odd to me that you aren't ranked in Premade ladder, though), that you really need some survivability added in via an item such as Rylai's or RoA, but you don't you simply imply that it is only a mana item, rather than one of the most potent AP items in the game today.

Also, Lich Bane advice there is a bit odd, as by itself it does almost nothing to expand your available mana - regardless of its potency on Kassadin in particular.


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RiotStatikk

QA Analyst

08-02-2010
3 of 46 Riot Posts

This is my personal opinion taken from my 1 year experience of playing this game at the top level. You can argue theories all you want but I have seen it in practice and I have never seen Archangel's as an effective choice on a DPS caster.

Especially in the case of Kassadin who needs to go into melee range, Archangel's simply does not give him the survivability or burst stats he needs. I could see people slipping by with it on support champions maybe but even then I think there are stronger choices. It's simply not a strong item choice right now as there are so many other ways of remedying mana problems that don't eat up such a vast amount of gold.

The results speak for themselves. I have been in the top Elo rating since the first time they released Elo lists and I am currently in the top 100 for solo ladder. I simply do not have the scheduled time these days to commit to a real team. Many teams have asked me to play for them and I could half-a** my way through it sure but I don't feel like dragging down their potential when I can't give 100%.

I am not forcing anyone to follow my advice. I am just trying to help those that want to improve their play and perhaps make it to the upper echelon whether it be solo queue or premade play.

In actuality I don't believe Kassadin is that much of a premade/competitive champion in the first place as he is definitely overshadowed by many other choices. A solid and fun champion sure, but there are stronger options such as Annie, Morgana, Heimerdinger, Fiddlesticks, etc. who bring a lot more to the table in a team-focused competitive environment.

Oh and the last time I checked, Lich Bane gives 350 mana. I wouldn't call that "nothing."


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RFK

Senior Member

08-02-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebonclaw View Post
How is it a weak choice? Archangel + Zhonya's will give you more AP than any other combination of 2 items, as well as massively expanding your mana pool so that you can take greater advantage of your CDR and highly spammable spells.

I'd accept if you said that in the top 100 (impressive, odd to me that you aren't ranked in Premade ladder, though), that you really need some survivability added in via an item such as Rylai's or RoA, but you don't you simply imply that it is only a mana item, rather than one of the most potent AP items in the game today.

Also, Lich Bane advice there is a bit odd, as by itself it does almost nothing to expand your available mana - regardless of its potency on Kassadin in particular.
And your credentials are????? 1300 rating in all brackets? Not sure why you are burning him at the stake here dude. He's just trying to help. Listen or don't. He ain't forcing you to.


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RiotStatikk

QA Analyst

08-02-2010
4 of 46 Riot Posts

Woah there don't turn this into a flame fest...I feel it getting there.

At the end of the day this is my opinion and it is definitely not fact. I can only offer my own perspective of the game, and if you believe Archangel's is the correct answer and an effective item choice to help you succeed then by all means go ahead.

My personal view on guides anyway really is to open people's minds and make them maybe think outside of the box. This is here to give people ideas but ultimately each player much adapt to the situation and their own style. These aren't rulebooks that you need to follow word by word. I am just suggesting a certain playstyle that I have found effective time after time.


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AIM7Sparrow

Senior Member

08-02-2010

I got to say there seems to be some major ass-kissing in terms of where up and down votes are getting applied. Let's try to look at content and not color eh people?


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Watchers

Member

08-02-2010

I've been playing Kass a lot lately, and he's almost single-handedly carried me out of elo-hell (that'll teach me for trying to play tanks all the time).

I tend to rush a Banshees asap if there is any kind of stun on the other team, then grab sorc boots and a soulstealer. Taking cleanse in combination with Banshees makes me basically unkillable, and allows me to fill up the soulstealer very quickly. I'll take clarity too, since I find this helps countless times to either get away, or pull off that tower dive and get out safely, without having to stack mana (I agree with you re: Archangels, and since I've stopped building it my Kass game has lifted massively). The rest of the build is fairly situational, but generally includes a Deathfire for cooldown and a bonus nuke, or a Abyssal Sceptre if there is heavy magic damage (or heavy MR) on the other team. Zhonyas is the luxury item if I get super-farmed, or maybe a Guardian Angel if I'm getting super-focussed. Build hasn't failed me yet...


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ObsidianKnife

Member

08-02-2010

can your next miniguide be on Pantheon?


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