Kai'Sa Mid Guide: How to win every game. | RiftFeed
Find out why this champion has come out of nowhere, to dominate Pro and High Elo alike, and how you can do that yourself.

Kai'Sa Mid Guide: How to win every game.

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Kai'Sa Mid Infographic
These are the recommended items and runes on Kai'Sa Mid. | © Riot Games

In this guide I'll cover the newest and most exciting pick to surface in the mid lane recently. But most importantly I'll be covering why it's so strong, and how to play it yourself, as well as how to play against it.

To kick things off, my name is OkamiHayazo and I'm a D4 Kai'Sa Mid Main. While I haven't played a ton of it recently (forgive the Zoe matches the champ is just too fun!) I would argue Kai'Sa is my best champion still, and if I want to win she's my current go to. I have about 200 games on her since last season so I definitely some experience on the champion to speak from.

While I have more games on Kai'Sa mid than anyone else in NA Diamond (that I can find) that doesn't necessarily mean I'm infallible. Make sure to test the suggestions out yourself and find what feels best to play to you.

This guide is going to be very long, so skip to the "How do I actually play this champion Mid?" section if you just want to know how to play Kai'Sa and you don't care about why it's strong right now.

Hold up, if you want to really see how clean mid lane Kai'Sa is check out the perfect monitor

Why Kai'Sa Mid?

Upon release Kai'Sa was one of the strongest champions in the game, being pick/ban every game for almost an entire season. Since then Kai'Sa has been going in and out of the meta but hasn't been all that interesting.

Kai'Sa always built hybrid, opting for both AP and AD items to make best use of her kit. However with the mythic item overhaul hybrid items were removed entirely which left Kai'Sa in a weird spot. For the most part the AP build on Kai'Sa was abandoned for AD and forgotten about.

After players spent a few hours in the training tool testing items to discover the optimal build and some buffs to her AP playstyle, AP Kai'Sa came back with a bang. But in the botlane and still building primarily for her auto attacks.

The special thing about Kai'Sa mid is purely how much range she has. AP Kai'Sa has more range than any champion in the game. And by quite a lot too. That's a bold statement I know, but I'm confident that because of how much range she has, Kai'Sa also scales better than any other champion. If someone can kill you when you aren't even in range to fight back, it simply doesn't matter how strong you are.

A good Kai'Sa will be pretty much able to 1v9 any game, it just requires her to hit her spikes at specific timings. Which is harder than it sounds, but is well worth it.

Lagoon Dragon Kai'Sa
Best Kai'Sa skin for sure!

If it's that strong, why isn't it dominating the meta more?

The reason this build hasn't been discovered sooner, is because of how hard it is to execute. You are literally counting pennies as Kai'Sa, fighting for every single point of AD and AP to try and become stronger than a jungle camp.

 AP Kai'Sa is extremely reliant on her W hitting. If she misses, she is practically useless for 13 seconds. This is why AP Kai'Sa built Nashors and Berzerkers greaves for so long, so that you could still be impactful even if you missed. The problem with this however, is you're splitting your resources between poke, and auto attacks. This makes the champion decent at both, but not good at either.

Kai'Sa is unlike any other champion in the sense of just how reliant on items she is. A lot of champions want items because they need stats, Kai'Sa is the only champion in the game who part of her kit is literally gated behind having a certain amount of stats.

Like I said before, Kai'Sa mid is really difficult to pull off. It's not because she's mechanically difficult either, it's purely knowing the champions spikes and how to play accordingly. Kai'Sa requires a few things to be online and ready to fight, namely: Q evolve, W evolve, 30+ Ability Haste, 10+ magic pen.

The most effective way to accomplish this list, is to buy Manamune -> Lucidity boots -> Ludens + Amp tome. At this point, you are online and ready to take over the game.

A big reason Kai'Sa and other scaling champions aren't played mid right now is because of how it affects your team. Midlane is like a second jungler, their job is to fight for lane priority and use it to help their team around the map. If your champion is extremely reliant on items to impact the game, you make the game a lot harder for your teammates by picking a scaling champion while your opponent roams.

Kai'Sa runes
This is the best rune page on Kai'Sa. Hail of Blades is a bait!

So how do I build Kai'Sa Mid?

Arguably the most important part of playing Kai'Sa is itemization. You want to reach your spikes as quickly and as cheap as possible, so you can start making up for your lack of impact up until that point. In 9/10 games, your team should consider it a 4v5 until Kai'Sa has spiked, that is how weak she is.

Most champions have multiple starting items to choose from, Kai'Sa can only start tear of the goddess. This is because Manamune is the only item you'll build that gives you AD, the only ways you have to evolve Q is leveling up, gaining maximum mana, and buying Manamune. This means that stacking tear directly contributes to how quickly you evolve your Q. At around 180-210 tear stacks, level 9 and 7 ad from cull Kai'Sas Q will have evolved. You should shoot for this spike between 10-12 minutes.

Q evolve opens the game up to Kai'Sa and is really the first time you should consider yourself anything more than a caster minion. Kai'Sas evolved Q has really high damage, especially on isolated targets. But most importantly, it gives wave clear. Once your Q evolves it will one shot all 3 melee minions, and one shot a damaged cannon minion + caster minions. You can clear both normal and cannon waves in just two Q's. 

This is the part of the game you can look to roam the map and help your team, but you don't want to compromise yourself for it. If you're going to lose CS or XP for roaming to help your team, don't do it unless you are certain you will get a kill out of it.

Because you now have real wave clear, your gold income is also accelerated. You can viably start taking jungle camps like red and blue buff, gromp, and wolves. 

At this point your aiming to get 100 AP as fast as possible. The quickest way is Lost Chapter + Needlessly large rod. These two items give 100 AP for only 2550 gold. There are two problems with this path however, one is it's pretty difficult to guarantee 1250 gold on a reset to buy Needlessly large rod in one go. 

The other path is Lost Chapter + Blasting Wand + Amplifying tome. This option is 35 more gold but allows you to buy Luden's Echo 850 gold faster. So 9/10 games you want to buy Lost Chapter + Blasting Wand + Amplifying Tome. The only time you would go Needlessly Large Rod + Lost Chapter is when you want to buy Crown of the Shattered Queen, and that is very rare. You should try and reach this spike by about 16 or 17 minutes. 

The key to hitting Kai'Sas second big spike, is finishing Cull. Because you've taken Teleport, First Strike, and Future's Market to farm and get gold as quickly as possible, Cull fits right in. It gives 7 AD you need for Q evolve, and it is extremely gold efficient once you finish 100 CS. I prefer teleport, because at around level's 4-5 I can shove a wave out and recall, which allows me to buy Cull around 5 or 6 minutes. This reset timer not only makes laning stage a lot easier, because you can afford to take poke while CSing the early levels, it often lets you return to lane stronger than your opponent which in turn keeps you safe from being killed.

It's extremely important to have 8+ CS/min on Kai'Sa mid, if you reset and buy Cull as soon as you're able you should be finishing it around 16 or 17 minutes, which is exactly when you want to finish W evolve. With 0 kills and 0 assists and a little bit of gold from first strike, you will have enough gold to evolve W by the time you have finished Cull.

The third and final spike you want to play for on AP Kai'Sa is your Luden's and Muramana timings. Evolving W gives you kill pressure, and the ability to abuse unaware enemies in fights, it's not enough to 1v9 games single handedly. Muramana should finish at around the time you have enough gold for Luden's, these spikes together give Kai'Sa a preposterous amount of damage. The magic pen from Luden's Echo is extremely important to your damage, and the Muramana passive gives your W a huge chunk of bonus damage. This spike should be happening shortly after your second one, at around 19 or 20 minutes.

Itemizing from here is pretty simple, it's always going to be Shadowflame into Rabadons or Zhonyas. You can also build Void Staff or Banshees after Shadowflame, but it is always Shadowflame.

KDA Kai'Sa
Maybe this is the best skin... | © Riot Games

How do I actually play this champion Mid?

By 20 minutes, you need to be the biggest champion in the game. If you aren't, you have failed. It is extremely important to recognize the real cost of picking Kai'Sa in the mid lane, and that's losing priority on almost all objectives and all fights in the first 10-15 minutes of the game. Games can often be decided by that point, so if you spike late and miss your timings, you will not come online in time to bring the game back.

Assuming you have spiked on time, your job is to play around Mid Lane and poke with W. Spend a lot of time getting used to the projectile and predicting enemies movement. At this point you should get pretty much every objectives as long as your alive. It's incredibly hard to contest objectives when the enemy team has longer range than you, and Kai'Sa has the longest range of any champion. So as long as you're not getting caught, and poking with W you can dominate objectives.

By the time of your 3rd spike and Shadowflame, you've become 'nuclear'. Essentially, you can one shot almost any champion in the game.  While Kai'Sas W does a ton of damage, her passive does a huge amount of missing health damage as well. So hitting multiple W's in a row is really important. This is made really easy with upwards of 65 Ability Haste, which is why you build Lucidity Boots.


Once you're nuclear, you're trying to kill as many people as possible. Until this point you don't really mind if they die or not, you're just trying to push them off objectives and occasionally find picks around the mid lane. But on the Shadowflame spike, two W's will one shot almost any champion in the game. And even if it doesn't you can always use Q and auto attacks. 

Unfortunately hitting multiple W's in a row can be really hard, because once your W does this much damage the enemies are doing everything they can to dodge it and avoid letting you get the bonus passive damage. This is where the RW combo comes in.

The only mechanically challenging part of playing Kai'Sa besides just landing W's, is her RW combo. Because Kai'Sa W is so slow, and has a big cast time it can be really difficult to land when the enemy expects. However, you can start the cast time during the travel time of your ultimate, so that it fires as soon as you arrive. This is good because it negates the cast time, and the slow speed. If you master this combo, you can almost gurantee the second W hits. In other words, if you land a W on a squishy target, you can gurantee they die.

Things to keep in mind with this combo:

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice. This combo is really easy to mess up, and if you miss the W you will likely die and feel very silly.
  2. The easiest way to connect the W is to ult right in front of your enemy. This works well against immobile targets that aren't expecting you to ult in because you can keep your cursor still and hit them easily.
  3. You can kill people when they cant even see you, so ulting in for a single kill can be really really bad. Make sure you won't die if you do, this combo is good for catching people out. It is not an excuse to trade 1 for 1.
  4. When you RW try to predict their movement, they will always be moving. Especially when they see you're ulting.
  5. If you're going to W behind where you're ult will take you, be very very careful about the timing. If you mess it up the W will go into space and you will die. The RW when shooting backwards is really difficult.

Final Notes

AP Kai'Sa is the strongest champion in the game once she has reached her spikes. She can still lose to champions that have insane engage like Nocturne or Rammus, but players below Masters will really struggle to recognize this and punish her.

While AP Kai'Sa is insanely strong, you have to master your timings. Similar to Vladimir, roaming for kills is almost never worth it because if you die and miss CS, you're several minutes behind on your timings and the game is much harder.

Wave management is really important on Kai'Sa. Try and freeze the wave whenever you can so that you can farm safely. If you mismanage your wave, the enemy can freeze you and you won't be able to break it without your jungler or supports help. Because this is solo queue relying on teammates to fix your game is really inconsistent, you are responsible for yourself. If your miss your timings and lose as a result, you can't blame your team.

The rune page I provided is definitely the most consistent. You are a Mage/Assassin, you are not an ADC. Keystones like Hail of Blades or Electrocute are a bait and completely incorrect. The same thing applies to Nashors tooth, it's like building Nashors on Viktor or Lux or Xerath. You're an artillery mage, you need to build like one. If you really need tank shred, you should opt into AD Kai'Sa and build Kraken Slayer instead. Or even Liandries if you're stuck being AP.

The only other viable Keystones on Kai'Sa Mid is Fleet Footwork and Summon: Aery, but First Strike is all around the best.

Kai'Sa Mid is relatively safe, take barrier, exhaust, and fleet footwork as needed if you think you need them based on your matchup. Make sure to change your rune shards every game!

It's also very important to take Ability Haste and Mana in your runes. Mana directly translates to AD so it's a must. I would recommend Biscuit Delivery but Future's Market helps you hit your spikes more consistently so until your comfortable doing it without it, don't take Biscuits. 

Memorize or keep a note of the timings and specifics of Kai'Sa's spikes. It should look a little like this: 

  • Tear Start
  • Cull first back around 4-6 minutes, Teleport back.
  • Manamune + Lucidity boots as soon as possible. Around 10-12 minutes.
  • Finish Cull and Lucidity boots if you haven't, buy necessary AP for W evolve. Around 16-18 minutes.
  • Buy out on Luden's and finish stacking for Muramana, shoot for around 20 minutes.
  • Buy Shadowflame and start working on Rabadon's, Zhonyas, or Banshees depending on the game. Around 22-25 minutes.

Remember to have fun playing Kai'Sa, the champion can be really frustrating when behind. Faker himself said he was playing her because it was so fun.

A really good way to learn new champions is watching gameplay of someone who knows how to play them. The player I watched to learn Kai'Sa is snipyOCE. He's a Diamond Kai'Sa mid main on the Oceanic server. He streams on twitch and makes youtube videos.

You can also download some of my VOD's through op.gg if you'd like. I've also made some poorly edited montages recently if you want to see how I play Kai'Sa or how I use the RW combo in game!

Remember to play what feels best to you despite what I say. These are just suggestions.

Except Nashors. Buying Nashors Tooth is literally trolling never ever buy that item!

Happy Sniping!