The midseason changes have seen Kassadin rise in popularity and win rate. A splitpusher and diving champion, Kassadin was considered a scaling counter to a few champions but was too niche to ever see consistent competitive play.
Far from his days in Season 3 as an essentially permabanned champion, Kassadin has nevertheless re-emerged as a powerful mid laner in the new patch due to his resilience, mobility, and scaling potential.
Magic Penetration Reds, Scaling Health Yellows, three Magic Resistance and six Scaling Cooldown Reduction Blues, Ability Power Quintessences
This rune page gives Kassadin appropriate stats for the lane and covers his deficiencies in combination with his ideal masteries below. Magic penetration and ability power help him do damage, while scaling health yellows combine with Rod of Ages to give Kassadin a massive health pool. Magic resistance blues help him lane more comfortably against AP in the mid lane, and scaling cooldown reduction combines with the cooldown reduction on items to eventually give Kassadin maximum CDR for crucial spells such as Rift Walk and Null Sphere.
Eighteen in Ferocity gives Kassadin the most amount of damage, especially through Deathfire Touch, which gives full damage on your Q. The magic penetration also helps substantially, while Battle Trance keeps your damage comfortably high. Feast is also a great sustain tool in combination with your defensive runes and masteries, as it gives you adequate health regeneration.
12 in Resolve is solely for the purpose of surviving your lane, which is the more difficult part of Kassadin’s gameplay. Veteran Scars, Tough Skin and Fearless ensure you have the durability to minimize damage dealt to you, while you also are benefiting from the health regeneration. This is in stark contrast to the limited early game benefit of the Cunning tree’s potion duration buff and mana regeneration.
First six levels: QEWQQR
Maxing Q gives you your highest base damage and most reliable ability to spam. An E max instead is less reliable despite its lower cooldown, as it needs a certain amount of spells to be cast before it can be used. For damage purposes and as you get cooldown reduction to spam spells, E can be maxed second and contributes greatly.
Your W is useful early for recovering mana, and last hitting caster minions under tower. As a result, an early level is powerful and will help you further survive the laning phase. It should be maxed last, however, as its utility beyond that does not match that of Kassadin’s E. His ultimate should be taken whenever possible, and is Kassadin’s most powerful tool. To go without leveling your ultimate is the equivalent of griefing a game.
Kassadin is a diver with great one-shot potential. As a result, he strives for a setup where he can maintain durability and get enough ability power to be a potent damage threat. Rod of Ages is perfect for him as a result, as it gives him scaling health and ability power that matches his needs. Afterward, Kassadin gets other items that contribute to this gameplan in passive and active ways. Lich Bane and Zhonya’s are two popular core items that give him exactly what he wants as well.
His boots are dependent on team composition. If you can be reliably stopped by crowd control, Mercury Treads are necessary. Ninja Tabi is great versus heavy physical damage teams. Sorcerer’s Shoes are amazing if you’re ahead.
Dark Seal + Refillable Potion
Corrupting Potion + Boots
Catalyst of Aeons
Rod of Ages
Sorcerer's Shoes or Mercury Treads or Ninja Tabi
Mejai’s Soulstealer (If 5+ stacks)
Kassadin’s early game is all about survival. He just needs to lane without trouble and then out scale his opponent. Against enemies who deal magic damage, getting his Q off is a great tool to minimize harass. As the magic shield comes up on cast instead of on impact, he will get the shield immediately and deal good damage to his opponent. With the early health and Fearless, all-ins should be less likely to kill you. Use your W to last hit minions, and get some mana back for more harass with Q. Freely trading to reduce the enemy sustain, and teleporting back with an item advantage and more sustain before you get access to your ultimate is a great way to cement and advantage in lane. Once Kassadin has his ultimate in lane, his gameplan becomes more aggressive, able to use Rift Walk either to dodge abilities, go in against his lane opponent, or roam to a side lane and gank. The versatility of Kassadin’s ultimate makes him a ridiculously powerful champion.
The mid game is Kassadin’s start to scaling and his splitpushing strategy. As he scales up with runes and Rod of Ages, he can get Lich Bane and start to chunk turrets thanks to the Spellblade passive. His kill pressure with Lich Bane is massive as well, as he can jump in and use Q, E, an auto attack which can be canceled for a second empowered auto-attack with W, and completely ruin the day of any squishy target. Any attempt to match him in lane is difficult for the enemy. Either they’re unable to survive, or unable to kill Kassadin due to his high mobility. In teamfights, Kassadin can jump in and chunk targets, but often will get focused if he tries. Instead, it’s worth using Q and E to kite around in teamfights and ultimate into the fight if you see a carry that is mispositioned.
In the late game, Kassadin’s split push comes fully online. He can push down towers with ease, flank from many angles in teamfights, and pick off straggling enemies by intercepting them or chasing them down with Rift Walk. Before teamfights, Kassadin should pump up his Rift Walk's damage by casting the ability, and then using that burst with the aforementioned combo to completely destroy a target. Using Zhonya's after ensures that your team follows up, protects you, and that you'll have another Rift Walk to escape or continue the fight.
Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.