League of Legends

Kalista top is taking over League of Legends ⁠— here’s why

by Andrew Amos
Riot Games

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Kalista is being picked as a solo laner ⁠— primarily in the top side ⁠— more often in League of Legends by pro players, with the high skill cap champion proving to be a nuisance. Here’s a guide as to why Kalista top is so strong in LoL right now.

Kalista’s rise has been a slow one, given she hasn’t received any major buffs in recent seasons. However, over time, small changes here and there have allowed her to stay relevant and break back into the meta.

Her Patch 10.1 buffs to her health and armor growth made her tankier in the later stages of the game, while buffs in Season 9 helped her get back on her feet. While she couldn’t break into the bot lane meta with Kai’Sa and Xayah at the helm in Season 9, and then Senna and Aphelios in Season 10, she has somehow found her way into the top lane.

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Kalista base splash art for League of Legends
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Kalista top might sound wacky, but it's super strong in the right hands.

Having Kalista in a solo lane seems counterintuitive to her entire identity as a champion. She relies on having an ally nearby to cast her ultimate.

However, it’s proving to be quite the powerful pick. Kalista top surged from almost non-existent to nearing 1% pick rate, skewing heavily towards high elo. While it lingers around 42-43% win rate in Platinum+ solo queue, stats site ProBuilds has Kalista top’s win rate in high elo at over 52%.

It even found its way into pro play thanks to Invictus Gaming’s Kang ‘TheShy’ Seung-lok. The star Korean top laner had been playing Kalista non-stop in solo queue before pulling it out in both games of iG’s win over Vici in the LPL.

For mobile readers, the related segment begins at 7:28.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aafZUJ1txRk

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Why Kalista top has made its rise isn’t because of buffs to her kit, but rather the stale meta. Top has been struggling to find relevancy, with bruisers being pushed out for enchanters and tanks thanks to buffs to items like Bami’s Cinder.

What makes Kalista top such a striking pick though is her reliance on allies. While she can bind to the jungler and throw them at an enemy in a gank, in lane, she loses one of her key abilities without them nearby.

Instead, she relies on her hyper-mobility with her Martial Poise auto-attacks, jumping around the lane to bully enemies. Because most champions picked are melee champions, other top laners can’t fight back around Kalista’s 525 attack range coupled with her 250 range leap.

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Kalista top's win rate is skyrocketing in higher elos.

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This doesn’t mean Kalista is blind-pickable though, nor should you pick her up immediately after reading this. She can still get rolled by champions that can get on top of her and bully her, like Jayce.

On top of that, Kalista is arguably the hardest champion in the game to play. Her auto-attack mechanic is clunky until you get used to it, and being able to maximise her DPS takes a ton of practice.

Before you roll out with this idea in solo queue ⁠— or even normal games for that fact ⁠— give her a few run-throughs in Practice Tool and get used to her auto-attack mechanics. Then, from there, pick up kiting, and mix the two together.

Debonair Jayce splash art for League of Legends
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Jayce is one of Kalista top's biggest counters.

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Once you’ve nailed all that down, feel free to jump onto Kalista top in your games. A lot of players are taking Hail of Blades as the instant burst damage, combined with the extra auto-attacks to rend, can help you win quick engages.

Sanguine Blade is a popular item for the Spear of Vengeance in the top lane, giving her a burst of attack speed when she is isolated. This allows her to churn through enemies, bursting them down before allies can help.

Going a full sustain build from there helps her get bailed out of any trouble. Berserker’s Greaves with Legend: Alacrity and Blade of the Ruined King gives her enough attack speed to get around, while Mercurial Scimitar is the perfect get-out-of-jail-free card.

Championship Kalista splash art for League of Legends
Riot Games
Kalista top isn't for the faint-hearted, but in the right hands, it can be something special.

Kalista top is by no means an easy champion to pick up and play. She takes time to learn and a lot of skill to master, which is why it’s been popping off in high elo play.

However, if you fancy learning a quirky new pick to possibly dominate solo queue with, give her a crack, because in the right hands, she’s one of the most powerful top laners in the meta right now.