Kalista is a marksman who cooperates with her Soul-Bound to deal substantial sustained damage, access her full repertoire of abilities and wither her enemies under her relentless assault. Kalista’s potential is unlocked by solid communication and cooperation with allies rather than raw mechanical skill. While still capable in her own right, Kalista misses out on Soul-Marked’s bonus damage and effective use of her ult without direct cooperation from her ally.
Item(s): The Black Spear
Active: Kalista offers a pact to an allied champion, should they agree, the item is consumed and the pair are Soul-Bound for the remainder of the game. When accepted, the binding enables Soul-Marked, a passive on Sentinel, and allows Kalista to use Fate’s Call when she unlocks it.
Passive: Martial Pose
Rather than cancelling the basic attack animation, a move order hops Kalista in the direction of the click after she completes her attack. Kalista leaps farther when moving away from her target.
Kalista hurls a spear, damaging the first enemy struck and adding a stack of Rend. Pierce also procs Martial Poise.
Passive: Soul-Marked—When Kalista and her bound ally attack a minion, monster or enemy champion at the same time, they deal bonus magic damage.
Active: Kalista commands a sentinel to keep watch over an area. The sentinel patrols back and forth in a line a few times. Vulnerable to attacks from behind, sentinels see in a cone in front of them and scream if they spot an enemy champion.
Kalista’s basic attacks and the spear from Pierce lodge in their target for a short time. Rend causes her to rip the spears from her enemies, slowing them and dealing increased damage for each spear rent from the target. Rend’s cooldown resets if it secures a kill on an enemy unit. The spears stack infinitely, only disappearing if Kalista fails to keep up her assault.
R: Fate’s Call
Kalista repositions her bound ally next to her, making them untargetable and disabling their spells. During Fate’s Call, Kalista’s Soul-Bound gains a new ability, which allows the Soul-Bound to dash in a target direction, knocking up enemies they strike.
In lane, Kalista follows the familiar marksman pattern of farm and harass with one important difference: Martial Poise makes kiting part and parcel of her kit. With it, Kalista can reposition after every basic attack, hopping in and out of danger to attack opponents and gain superior positioning. Soul-Marked allows Kalista and her ally to speedily crush down each minion, forcing their opposition to farm under turret and nearly guaranteeing a level two ding ahead of their opponents. With the lane pushed, Kalista can send a Sentinel up the river to keep watch for incoming threats. This ability takes some vision pressure off her support, allowing both to spend less time at base and more time dictating the pace of the lane.
For trading, Kalista lands Pierce to proc Rend, poking with terrifying speed. While Kalista decides when to answer Fate’s Call, her Soul-Bound, often a support, ultimately decides where it’ll make its impact. If either Kalista or her Soul-Bound land significant crowd control on an enemy champion, Fate’s Call makes the perfect tool to damage and lock down enemies, setting Kalista up to sling the fatal spear.
Without massive range or a reliable escape, Kalista relies on backline positioning and attentive protection from her allies. Before any teamfight breaks out, Kalista should use Sentinel to try to spot out sneaky enemies on the edges of the fray. With the battle underway, Kalista metes out strong, consistent punishment with basic attacks, staying safe with precise management of Martial Poise. Given time and dependable peel, Kalista’s spears rocket from the backline of every skirmish and teamfight. The damage and stacks add up quick, making Kalista a decisive executor with Rend.
The ult’s versatility makes it good for peel, a wombo starter or a rescue for your Soul-Bound—used to its full potential, it can be all three. Against dive comps, a timely Fate’s Call stops a chase dead in its tracks and serves as a counter-engage for your team to follow up. If Kalista’s Soul-Bound is caught out, a quick ultimate spirits them to safety, burning whatever crowd control the enemies expended and offering the option of dis-or-re-engage. Brave Kalista players (and braver Soul-Bound) can kick off wombo-combos or follow up on a hard initiation, creating the space Kalista needs clean up the fight from the back lines.
On face, it may not seem like a great idea to toss the fragile Janna into the enemy team, but Fate’s Call and Monsoon combine to split enemy teams asunder.
Tanky supports like the Radiant Dawn are perfect for Fate’s Call. After being tossed into the fray by Kalista, Leona can hang onto Zenith Blade to zoom around teamfights applying crowd control where needed. Bonus points for proc-ing Sunlight and Soul-Marked at the same time.
Imagine Fate’s Call and Unstoppable Force smacking sequentially into the enemy team—the area of effect knockup double tap will win you most fights.
Ezreal’s kit dulls the edge of Kalista’s spears: He outpokes her with Mystic Shot and can escape the danger posed by Rend and Fate’s Call with a quick Arcane Shift.
Kalista’s slow basic attack leaves her vulnerable to the lockdown of Grasping Roots. The Spear of Vengeance must carefully manage Martial Poise to survive this lane opponent.
Highlander causes problems for Kalista since her primary escape tool applies a slow. If Kalista and her ally can’t nail Master Yi with Fate’s Call, she’s likely to be chopped up, Wuju Style.
Kalista, game design by CertainlyT
Champion diversity helps us accomplish one of our key goals, that each game of League feels different than the ones before it. Just as important as champ diversity is player diversity. Some opponents are risk-averse, some fight early and often. Adjusting to the unique rhythm of each game is critical to success. But League is a team game. Reading and reacting to your allies’ demeanor is equally important to victory. Kalista is for players who enjoy or want to improve at taking the pulse of teammates and working together toward a win.
As designers, we are constantly trying to help players succeed. Building scenarios that overwhelm or confuse players is simple, laying the foundations for success is the challenge. As such, Kalista highlights the cooperative end-state in which she and her ally are most likely to succeed and offers a tool kit to enable players to reach that state.
It is important to light up the right paths for players, to make the unseen momentarily visible. A champion’s focus is an opportunity to let the player grow their general skill in that area so that they can bring that strength to bear in other contexts. Consider the jungle for a new player: they’re not likely to see the value of farming it, of denying farm from the opposing jungler and of doing all this while controlling larger map objectives. Nunu’s Consume is an amazing tool for jungling that emphasizes a successful way to play. Mastering Nunu teaches the player how to jungle, enabling him to succeed on other champions in that role.
Now think of this in terms of Kalista’s focus on facilitating cooperation:
Passive: Soul-Marked—If Kalista and her ally attack an enemy within one second of each other, they deal bonus magic damage to their target
Soul-Marked is designed to reveal effective duo-lane teamplay. Often in bot lane, a fight devolves into two 1v1’s happening near each other, rather than a 2v2 that’s won through cooperation between allies. Sentinel’s passive emphasizes what’s often the optimal play in these situations: focused fire.
Equally important to helping the player understand the criterion for success is giving them the tools to get there. Tools to cooperate are interesting in that they include more than just formal power. In this vein, Kalista’s kit endeavors to facilitate teamwork by resolving incentives for selfish play and visually communicating intent.
Think of the active on Sentinel, it relieves your support (and likely Soul-Bound) of some pressure to keep up vision. That way they’ll more often be available to work together to deal bonus damage and wreak havoc with Fate’s Call. This sort of design allows us to emphasize tighter, more consistent teamwork without making Kalista so communication dependent that you practically need to play in the same room as your Soul-Bound.