How to play Kalista in the top lane just like TheShy

By Melany Moncada


Mar 17, 2020

Reading time: 3 min

The LPL is known for being an extremely aggressive league with experimental compositions that walk the line between genius and absolutely troll. The most recent pick on that list is Kalista in the top lane courtesy of former World Champion Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok.

Invictus Gaming is currently riding high in the 2020 LPL Spring Split. Every team on the member is performing at the highest level, especially TheShy, who continues to be the best top laner in the world.

TheShy debuted the Kalista pick in the match against Vici Gaming in Week 2.

How does Kalista top lane work?

What makes Kalista stand out in the top lane is her poke damage. From level one, Kalista can start poking enemies with her spears. In early levels the damage coming from Kalista is significant, and it only gets better once she starts completing her items.

At level one, players should level up Kalista’s Rend (E). The second point should go to Pierce (Q) and max Q in the following levels. Sentinel (W) is not effective for Kalista in a solo lane because she doesn’t have a partner with her most of the time.

Kalista starts the game with Black Spear, an item used to bind herself to an ally. As a solo laner, it’s better for Kalista to bind herself to the jungler, the player most likely to visit her lane. If Kalista binds herself to the jungler, they can proc the W passive that deals bonus magic damage while ganking the lane.

Build and runes for Kalista top lane

The priority for Kaliste are damage, attack speed, and life steal, in that order. Through these runes, Kalista gets decent stats for her level one trades. The rune tree of choice in this case is Domination, with Hail of Blades as the main rune.

Hail of Blades increases attack speed significantly, and this is useful in team fights. Sudden Impact grants Kalista extra Lethality and Magic Penetration. Ravenous Hunter grants additional life steal, and to get the required stacks, Kalista needs to take down each enemy champion at least once.

The secondary rune tree should be Precision with Overheal and Legend: Alacrity. These compliment the life steal and attack speed from the main runes.

When it comes to the build, players must go for three core items, Berserker’s Greaves, Sanguine Blade, and Blade of the Ruined King. The build revolves around damage, attack speed, and life steal. Kalista wants to poke the enemies, chase them out of the lane and survive through the whole thing.

The probems with Kalista top lane

Kalista in the top lane is not an OP pick, as it requires mechanical skill to pull it off. As a solo laner, Kalista loses some of the stats that make her a good bot laner. For example, because Kalista is alone, she won’t get the usual stats from her passive and her W.

In lane, Kalista is vulnerable to ganks because of her reduced mobility, so expect a lot of visits from the enemy jungler. This champion is weak against champions that can close the gap like Jax and Irelia. If the enemy can jump on top of Kalista, she will have a difficult time hitting back.

Taking a hyper carry in the top lane means that the composition is missing a tank or front liner. A squishy composition stands no chance against an opponent that scales, so it might be best to end the game fast.

Before jumping into a ranked game with Kalista, take time to understand how the champion works. Even if you’re an expert on the pick, it’s better to play as a duo with a jungler, as this way you can guarantee protection for your more vulnerable lane.


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