Author: MMOsite Writer Alexander Hinkley
Kalista, The Spear of Vengeance, is the newest League of Legends champion to be released. It’s been awhile since Riot has released a straight up Marksman. Jinx was the last primary Marksman champion to be released and that was back when they were still called AD Carries (October 2013). Kalista is pretty unique compared to other champions in this role. She rewards teamwork more than others and is also heavily reliant on micromanagement skills to successfully play.
Kalista’s passive is called Martial Poise. Basically if you try to move during the animation of any basic attack or while casting Pierce, Kalista will dash in that direction after the attack. The distance of each dash increases based on the level of your boots and it also increases when dashing backwards. This makes Kalista the ultimate kiting champion. Normally a champion would cancel their attack if they move during the animation meaning that to kite someone you have to stop, quickly attack, and then start to move again. But Kalista is able to attack and move at the same time thanks to this passive. She is annoyingly difficult to catch.
Her passive also has a secondary function to it. At the beginning of the game, Kalista starts with a unique item called The Black Spear which she must use on an ally. That teammate then becomes her Oathsworn for the duration of the game which gives her and her Oathsworn ally some special abilities.
Kalista’s Q spell is called Pierce. Pierce is simply a long range spear that she hurls, kind of like Nidalee’s Javelin Toss except it does physical damage and scales with AD instead of scaling with AP and dealing magic damage. Pierce also adds a Rend stack onto the target and if it kills the target will continue forward and pass all Rend stacks from the killed enemy onto the second target (Rend is Kalista’s E and will be discussed shortly). You will obviously want to learn and max Pierce first since it is her best damage ability and best harassing ability.
Her W is Sentinel and has two dimensions to it – an active and a passive. The passive part of Sentinel combos with her Oathsworn. If Kalista and her Oathsworn ally attack the same target within 1.5 seconds of each other, the target takes additional magic damage based on a percentage of their max health. The damage bonus starts at a whopping 12% with a level one Sentinel and goes up to 20% of their health at max level. Before you start to think this sounds OP, it can only hit the same champion once every eight seconds. Still though, this extra damage can help you bring down high-health tanks by melting a good chunk of their health bar with a simple one-two punch of basic attacks. As you can see, it can pay off to stick close to your Oathsworn!
The activated aspect of Sentinel is that Kalista can create what are pretty much mobile wards. She sends a soul sentinel to patrol a target area, gaining vision as it moves around. Like Zyra’s plants, the Sentinel has doesn’t have actual HP but instead can take a certain number of hits (two) before it dies. It will also go away on its own after completing seven laps of the target area. This is a very useful ability for preventing ganks while also saving a little bit of gold on wards. Why purchase a ward for a bush when you can just have a soul sentinel patrol it for ya?
Despite how useful Sentinel can be, you’ll still want to learn and level it up last out of any of her abilities.
Rend is her E. Once learned, Kalista’s basic attacks as well as Pierce will leave spears in the target for four seconds. Upon activating Rend, Kalista will rip the spears out of all nearby enemies dealing physical damage to them and slowing them by up to 45%. The damage not only scales with AD but also scales with the number of spears per target so loading up your enemies before casting Rend will making it much more devastating. Another nice little bonus is that if you kill any enemies with Rend, even if it’s just a minion, the cooldown will be reset on it.
Rend is useful in a variety of situations. First of all, it can deal some really good damage if you load up an enemy with tons of spears. It’s also good for last hitting minions by activating Rend when a spear-riddled minion’s health gets low.
Rend is also another tool for kiting enemy champions. As an enemy chases you, you can throw spears at them while continually jumping backwards with Martial Poise. Then if they get too close, or if they turn around and try to give up the chase, activate Rend to slow their movement speed. This can stop them from catching up to you or allow you to turn the tides and start chasing them if they got too injured and were trying to retreat. Rend is a very useful ability indeed. Learn it immediately after Pierce.
Kalista’s ultimate is pretty unusual because it requires her Oathsworn to be near her to cast. Called Fate's Call, Kalista calls her Oathsworn ally to her, basically absorbing her teammate for a short time. Her ally is untargetable at this point. Once “absorbed,” her ally can then choose to launch themselves to a nearby area. If your launched teammate rams into an enemy, it will knock up all enemies within a small area of effect for 1.5 seconds and bounce your teammate back toward you a short distance. Ranged champions bounce back further than melee ones.
This is a strong fight initiator because there’s pretty much nothing you can do to stop it since her ally is untargetable. Basically all you can do when you see Kalista absorb her teammate is to try to back away far enough that Fate’s Call can’t hit you. It’s especially good at the beginning of a team fight since enemy champions will probably be bunched up; you can usually hit at least two or three and knock them up, turning them into sitting ducks for your bloodthirsty teammates.
So basically the first part of Fate’s Call is sort of like Thresh’s lantern exclusively for your Oathsworn except you don’t have to rely on your teammate to click it, you are just pulling him/her to you.
While Fate’s Call can be used to knock up a group of enemies, an alternate use would be for Kalista to suck up her Oathsworn when they are about to die and then help them get away. Her Oathsworn could then launch himself or herself in the opposite direction of their enemies to escape danger.
In terms of items, you’ll definitely want to build up attack speed to maximize Kalista’s mobility with her passive. There’s no cooldown on that dash so the faster you can throw spears, the more you can dash around. Once you get your attack speed high enough, you can literally hop around the battlefield constantly, becoming very hard for your opponents to catch or even target with an ability.
Most Kalista builds right now utilize a combination of Statikk Shiv, Blade of the Ruined King, Infinity Edge, and Youmuu’s Ghostblade. Make Statikk Shiv first for the attack speed and movement speed boosts then build an Infinity Edge after that to give yourself some damage. Last Whisper is another standard item when up against heavily armored opponents and Frozen Mallet seems like it would also be useful when kiting.
Kalista is obviously a bottom lane champion since she needs to be with someone to fully utilize having an Oathsworn. Kalista’s biggest weakness is that she is extremely squishy – even more so than other Marksman champs. She actually has health comparable to Teemo but shockingly, Teemo has more base armor than her so one could make the case Teemo is less squishy of the two. That should tell you something right there.
You really need to stay away from your opponents because once they get their hands on you, they are going to crush you like a bug. Utilize your high mobility to harass them with basic attacks and Pierce. If you’re having trouble keeping them back, a Frozen Mallet might be able to help by slowing their movement.
Kalista is strong against other champions that rely upon skillshot abilities since she can dodge them with some practice. She seems weak against Caitlyn because of Cait’s superior basic attack range (Kalista’s range is 550 and Cait’s is 650). This makes it almost impossible for Kalista to harass outside of using Pierce since Cait is simply able to harass her from further away. Kalista is also weak against Braum because of Unbreakable.
The hardest part of playing Kalista is training yourself not to repeatedly click while attacking unless you want to dash in that direction. Most players furiously click the same area or enemy champion over and over when playing League of Legends. This can hurt you when playing Kalista by making you leap in that direction when you didn’t want to. It will definitely take many players some practice to know when and where to leap.
Kalista is a very hard champion to play. She’s most definitely not a champion you can zone out while playing. You need to stay focused during every battle. Unless you are already adept at micromanagement, I would suggest not playing Kalista. You might also want to stay away from her unless playing with a friend that you can make your Oathsworn. Having a random player as your Oathsworn can get frustrating when they don’t listen to or stick near you.
In conclusion, Kalista is a cool, unique champion but probably should only be used by certain people and only under certain circumstances.