Caitlyn ADC Guide, Build, and Playstyle | LoL Marksman Champion

Caitlyn, the Piltover Enforcer, is one of the most lane-dominant marksmen in League of Legends. Don’t pay much heed to her 47.49% win rate and 10.98% pick rate because in the right hands she’s an absolute game-changer. Let’s see how you can use Caitlyn to carry in Solo Queue!

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Ability Overview

Passive: Headshot

Caitlyn’s next auto attack against enemies rooted by Yordle Snap Trap [W] or slowed by 90 Caliber Net [E] has increased range and deals additional damage. Moreover, her regular auto attacks generate Headshot stacks, granting her the empowered damage (but no additional range) at 6 stacks. Headshot generates more stacks in brushes and can be procced on enemy turrets.

How to use: Headshot dictates your entire trading pattern. When you hit 6 stacks, you basically get a free critical strike, so walk up and try to use it on an enemy champion. If there are no champions nearby, Headshot is great for pushing minions waves and sieging turrets. Also, keep in mind that your abilities give you free Headshot procs, and you always want to exploit this in trades and all-ins.

Q: Piltover Peacemaker

After a brief delay, Caitlyn shoots a projectile in the target direction. All enemies affected take physical damage, although Piltover Peacemaker only deals 67% of its damage to anyone beyond the first target hit. Enemies revealed by Yordle Snap Trap [W] always take full damage from the projectile.

How to Use: Piltover Peacemaker deals a lot of damage, however, the long windup makes it very situational. In the early game, you should use it to push creep waves and chunk out your opponents from a long range. Keep in mind that Piltover Peacemaker deals a lot of damage if you manage to connect it without grazing any minions, but you’ll likely have to predict enemy movement to do so. The spell falls off later on. When you get 2-3 items, you should only cast Q if your target is out of your auto attack range.

W: Yordle Snap Trap

Passive: Caitlyn periodically stores charges of Yordle Snap Traps up to a maximum of 3-5 (depends on rank) at once.

Active: Caitlyn places a trap at the target location. The trap arms after 1.1 seconds, and any enemies that walk into it get revealed, rooted, and take increased damage from Headshots. After stepping into a trap once, an enemy champion can’t get affected by other traps for 4 seconds. Caitlyn can only have a limited amount of traps deployed at the same time.

How to use: Yordle Snap Trap is close to terraforming. If you put a trap somewhere, your enemies can no longer go there unless they’re okay with getting hit by a powerful auto attack. Use Yordle Snap Trap to trap champions under their turrets, wall off choke points, and discourage bruisers from going after you in teamfights.

E: 90 Caliber Net

Caitlyn fires a net in the target direction, dealing damage to the first enemy hit and slowing them for 1 second. Whenever she casts the ability, the Piltover Enforcer is knocked back in the opposite direction.

How to use: Your E is a great disengage tool that doubles down as extra burst. Use it to get out of harm’s way and to set up Headshots with your passive. Keep in mind that you can cast other abilities during the knockback animation, so you can either deploy an instant Yordle Snap Trap or launch a Piltover Peacemaker [Q] upon landing.

R: Ace in the Hole

Caitlyn locks onto a target enemy champion and takes aim for 1 second. After this time, she shoots a homing projectile that deals damage to the first enemy champion struck. Other enemy champions can intercept the projectile.

How to use: Caitlyn’s ultimate is the most underwhelming part of her kit. Because of the long channel time, Ace in the Hole [R] isn’t viable in full-blown battles, so you can only use it as a finishing move or as a way to soften up enemy carries before skirmishes. Keep in mind that Ace in the Hole can be blocked, and you should aim at stragglers if you want to find kills.

Skill Order

R > Q > W > E

Even though Piltover Peacemaker [Q] falls off in the late game, it’s still your main trading tool, so always max it first. Next, level up Yordle Snap Trap [W] as the spell provides a great mix of utility and damage. Save 90 Caliber Net [E] for last as it doesn’t scale well. And remember to invest points into Ace in the Hole [R] when you can.

Caitlyn Runes

Caitlyn always wants to run Precision runes. Take the Press the Attack keystone to get more damage in teamfights and skirmishes. Follow it up with Triumph. This rune is a free get-out-of-jail card that will save your life in close fights. Next, pick Legend: Alacrity. Caitlyn scales incredibly well with attack speed, so you want any opportunity you can get to boost the stat. Coup de Grace is another solid choice for making your poke stick in the laning phase.

For your secondary runes, make a choice between Sorcery and Domination. In the first case, you want to grab Celerity for the extra movement speed and Gathering Storm for the scaling. As for Domination runes, Taste of Blood will keep you healthy in the laning phase while Eyeball Collection will throw in some much-needed AD.

Caitlyn Summoner Spells

Just like most AD carries, Caitlyn runs Flash and Heal as her summoner spells. The former can be used as a gap closer or a reliable escape, and the latter is amazing for winning 2v2 skirmishes and kiting.

Caitlyn Build

1.) Infinity Edge > Berserker’s Greaves > Statikk Shyv > Rapid Firecannon > Lord Dominik’s Regards > Mercurial Scimitar

Caitlyn works best with the standard crit build. Technically, your first big purchase is Infinity Edge, but if you can get a B.F. Sword on your first back, you should sit on it and complete Berserker’s Greaves and Statikk Shyv instead. This is mainly because attack speed scales amazingly well with Caitlyn’s long range and Headshot passive. Finish IE next and grab Rapid Firecannon to complete your core crit items.

From then on, your build is a bit more flexible. Still, we recommend buying Lord Dominik’s Regards to have an easier time with tanks. As for Mercurial Scimitar, it will add some life steal while giving you a way to mitigate hard CC.

Caitlyn Situational Items

When you play Caitlyn, you need to be conscious of situational items. Even though a purchase like Ninja Tabi is bound to decrease your DPS, sometimes you have to get it to survive long enough in teamfights. In a similar fashion, Phantom Dancer is a viable replacement for Rapid Firecannon or even Statikk Shyv if you’re facing fed divers.

Maw of Malmortius is always a good choice against potent mages. Meanwhile, Guardian Angel fulfills the same role against AD assassins. Finally, take a look at the Blade of the Ruined King. This item offers attack speed, attack damage, and life steal—everything Caitlyn could ever dream of. Additionally, BotRK lets you shred tanks, and you should try to incorporate it into your build against comps with strong frontlines.

Your final situational item is Bloodthirster. It’s fairly niche, but it can definitely work in situations when you don’t need Scimitar’s cleanse or BotRK’s percentage damage.

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Caitlyn Playstyle

When to pick Caitlyn?

Caitlyn’s main forte is her strong laning phase, so your decision to pick her will often come down to the matchup. Still, it’s worth noting that Cait works best with a traditional team comp that includes a few tanks and a mid lane carry. Throw in a ranged support that can peel or provide more damage, and you have the dream scenario of every Caitlyn player.

That being said, Caitlyn is a reasonably self-sufficient marksman. That’s not to say she does well in splitpushing scenarios, but her long range and defensive abilities allow the Piltover Enforcer to pull through without any peel in teamfights.

Caitlyn Matchups and Counters

Caitlyn is a lane bully that counters short-ranged marksmen. LoL Champions like Twitch, Vayne, Sivir, and Ezreal will struggle to get CS against a competent Cait player. She can also keep her distance versus aggressive AD carries like Draven or Lucian.

Her weaknesses start to show against hard engage. Picks like Varus, Jhin, and Ashe can trade damage with Caitlyn from a long range and catch her out with their ultimates when she’s low enough. The same applies to Vayne or Tristana who can force a fight onto an unsuspecting Caitlyn.

Caitlyn Laning Phase

Caitlyn’s laning phase is her strongest point in the game. Most of the time, you want to start with Doran’s Blade and Piltover Peacemaker [Q]. Make your way to the bottom lane and start auto attacking creeps. When the enemy marksman shows up, try to hit him with your Q and throw in some autos every time he comes up to CS.

Weave in and out of brushes to reset creep aggro and build up your passive. Once you get Headshot stacked, move in to chunk out the enemy AD carry. Your enemies will usually be aware of this and will try to stay out of your auto attack range. Don’t worry, though, because you can use this opportunity to zone them from creeps.

At level 2, you have a choice to make. If you’re laning with a CC-heavy support or you’ve already pushed in the opposing duo, unlock Yordle Snap Trap [W]. This spell is perfect for layering crowd control and blocking off areas under the enemy turret. However, 90 Caliber Net [E] is a much safer option that will make it easier to survive all-ins and jungle ganks. No matter what ability you end up taking, get the other one at level 3.

Your goal for the laning phase should be pushing as much as possible while not giving any openings to the enemy jungler. Be mindful of jungler routes and gank timings and keep your river warded as much as you can.

If you spot the opposing jungler on the other side of the map, turn up your aggression. Poke your enemies with superior range, burst them with Piltover Peacemakers, and force them away from their turret with Yordle Snap Traps. If they try to engage onto you, use the classic E > Q > AA combo to punish them. Remember, your main strength is your long range. So stay away from all-ins unless you’ve already softened up the enemy duo.

Another trick you could use is to cast Ace in the Hole [R] the moment you see the enemy marksman. Sure, your ultimate won’t kill him outright, but the damage will stick, provided he doesn’t have life steal or a healing support. Keep pressuring until you destroy the enemy turret, and transition into the mid game.

Caitlyn Mid Game

Caitlyn’s mid game is all about rotations. Considering you’ve secured a lead in the laning phase, you want to snowball it to other parts of the map. Cait is perfect for sieging turrets, and this is exactly what you should do when you rotate to mid/top lane. Pick the lane with the least amount of wave clear and set up Yordle Snap Traps [W] to discourage the opposing team from engaging onto you. If an enemy champion oversteps his limits, punish him with a well-timed E > Q > AA combo.

Keep in mind, though, that Piltover Peacemaker [Q] starts to fall off now. That’s why it might be better to go for the E > W > AA > AA combo to get two quick Headshot procs. In teamfights, you don’t want to be casting basic abilities at all, unless you’re using them to cancel the auto attack animation. Yordle Snap Traps are especially great for this, and you should mix them in between your auto attacks instead of casting them on their own.

As for the 90 Caliber Net [E], save it for the time you need an escape. In general, your teamfighting strategy is all about keeping your distance and kiting melee threats. Keep in mind that your long range allows you to hit targets other AD carries wouldn’t be able to reach, so don’t hesitate to switch your focus if you see a squishie overstepping his limits.

Yordle Snap Traps are amazing for controlling choke points. Use this to your advantage when setting up objectives or fighting in the jungle. Even a single trap can turn the tide of the battle, and if you put them in a line to wall off a key route, your foes will have a hard time finding good fights. In a similar fashion, always cast traps during sieges to discourage the enemy team from protecting its turrets.

Once you get Rapid Firecannon, your range becomes far more oppressive. Combine the Firecannon proc with Headshot to snipe the opposing carry from a long distance. If you’re diligent about this, you can force them to recall before a fight even starts, effectively setting up a 5v4.

Caitlyn Late Game

Even though she isn’t a hypercarry, Caitlyn is deadly in the late game. Her long range and Headshot procs makes it easy to shred enemy tanks and top the damage charts. That’s why you have to stay in the back. As long as you’re alive, your team has a fighting chance, but once you drop dead, the game will spiral out of control.

Zoning with W becomes even more important, and well-placed traps can open up windows to rush Baron or Elder Dragon. If you’re fighting in the jungle or river, try to stay in the brushes. Your Headshots will stack twice as fast, making for a sizeable damage spike. At this point, Piltover Peacemaker [Q] becomes redundant, and you should only use it when your target exists your auto attack range. Otherwise, it’s much better to auto-attack.


Caitlyn is a lane bully that can carry the entire game. You have to master every single part of her intricate kit to outshine other marksmen. But if you stay on top of your mechanics, you’ll find it easier than ever to climb the Solo Queue ladder.