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Feb 2, 2015

FOTM Report: Thoughts on Kalista + Support Combos



With Kalista's surging popularity both in the casual scene and the professional stage, I think that this is a good time to revisit some thoughts on her and also go over supports that she synergizes with ~

Kalista's Potential

Kalista's potential as a marksman is clearly through the roof. Her ability to jump through walls (see resources section below) coupled with her unique ability to deny support death makes her very flexible. As long as she has the damage to back it up, then she's definitely a top contender.

Best Build Path

The most popular build right now by far is the Runaan's Hurricane + Bloodthirster combination as shown below by Doublelift and uploaded by Best outplayed. This build gives Kalista an insane amount of waveclear combined with some great sustain/kiting power.

Generally, these two core items are followed up by Last Whisper and then Infinity Edge, which gives her late game carrying potential a huge boost.


As a support main, this is the fun part. At first, I was under the impression that due to the way her ultimate works, melee supports with high engaging power would be the optimal and only supports that synergize with her.

However, although melee supports do very well with her, ranged supports can derive more advantage from the passive on her W skill, which gives targets additional magic damage if the support and adc attack the same target within 1.5 seconds once every 8 seconds.

Although there are some people theorycrafting jungler synergy, it's almost always better to link up with your support since they'll be by your side more often than the jungler...hopefully. With that being said, let's go through some supports!

Tier 1: Good Synergy

Annie: Ranged poke combined with a knock-up followed by an AOE tibbers stun is very strong, but requires coordination to make sure Kalista ults you when your stun is charged. The lockdown is extremely high if executed correctly though.

Leona: Leona as a whole is I think Kalista's ideal laning partner in solo queue. By throwing her into the fight she draws aggro. As an extremely tanky champion to being with, pushing damage onto her is ideal as it mitigates what's getting thrown at your allies. Her CC lock is also insane and her passive synergizes well with Kalista's attack speed builds.

Taric: Without his own gap closer, Kalista gives Taric a new life by ramming him close enough to ult and shatter, even without using his stun. Taric in turn gives Kalista the ability to sustain in lane, which provides a more flexible playstyle. I'd put him second, closely behind Leona.

Alistar: Alistar performs a similar role as Taric, giving Kalista a more flexible laning phase via his heal. He also synergizes extremely well with Kalista's ultimate, as he no longer has to rely on successfully landing his headbutt pulverize combo to be effective.

Braum: Similar to Leona, he does very well as an all-in role. He also provides some poke and his passive synergizes very well with Kalista's attack speed build.

Obligatory Taric splash art

Tier 2: Decent Synergy

Blitzcrank: Blitzcrank doesn't really need Kalista's help via her ultimate, but it's nice to double knock-up and then pull them in after the flash. This is one of those lanes that uses Kalista's ultimate more as an after-thought rather than as a serious initiation method.

Janna: Janna works fairly well with Kalista as she does with most champions. However, her synergy with Kalista's ultimate is questionable as no Mejal's Soulstealer build Janna would willingly throw herself into the middle of a fight just to ult them out of allied AOE.

Morgana: Morgana's synergy with Kalista is good once she gets Zhonyas, but again requires decent coordination as her stun isn't instantaneous like Annie's, and her poke is also much stronger as a catching tool. Her ultimate is also generally used more for peel in a support role, but this lane does have the potential to snowball hard.

Nunu: Nunu as a support is somewhat questionable in solo queue to begin with, but he does provide Kalista some solid early and mid game attack speed and movement speed, which helps her get to end-game faster. I think there are better picks, but as a tank Nunu can also draw a decent amount of aggro with his ultimate.

Thresh: Oh, the ever popular Thresh. Technically speaking, a Thresh/Kalista lane should almost NEVER die to a gank post 6. The reason for that is that they can simply run in opposite directions, then depending on who is in the safer position, lantern or Kalista ult to safety (whichever is more appropriate). However, the combined skill level and necessary coordination of this lane is extraordinarily high. On paper it looks really good, but things tend to backfire when you try to make plays that are too flashy.

Tier 3: Little Synergy

Fiddlesticks: Fiddlesticks with Kalista is a decent lane, but does lack synergy as neither really needs the other to do well. That being said, Fiddle does provide his usual bag of tricks, and I'm not saying that having both on the team wouldn't be beneficial, but it really doesn't offer a huge amount in the way of synergy.

Karma: Similar to Fiddlesticks, simply lacks synergy but isn't a complete miss as a lane partner.

Lulu: Lulu combined with Kalista is particular strange. It lacks synergy yes, but the fact is if Kalista is ulting Lulu into the middle of a fight, Lulu will likely be ulting herself. As a support Lulu, you'll likely want to put your ultimate on a more high priority target.

Lux: Lux's synergy is probably one of the lowest with Kalista as she is inherently a long range casting sniper. The lane can work, but both will mostly just do their own thing.

Nami: Similar to Janna, she'll just perform like she was playing with any other ADC. Slows on Kalista do help her kite better and she provides an excellent amount of AOE peel though.

Sona: Sona can do well with a Kalista ult combo'ed into her AOE stun, but she doesn't really need that kind of engage to hit 5 players. Also, up close it does get difficult to aim and projects her intentions a little more clearly.

Soraka: I think that if you try and ult a Soraka into the middle of the enemy team you're likely going to end up with one very unhappy Soraka and give the enemy team a good chuckle.

Vel'koz: Similar to Lux, but does work a little better as he can use Kalista ult to position himself in a good spot to channel his laser.

Zilean: Similar to Lulu, there's no real good reason to put him into the middle of the fight with his ultimate. Additionally, his speedboost helps with running away, but won't have any affect on Kalistas trying to maximize their passive jumps.

Zyra: Zyra probably doesn't want to be in the middle of a fight either, but she can throw down good damage with her ultimate.

Off-Meta Supports

Galio: Good sustain and synergizes well with Kalista, very off-meta but if the enemy team is AP heavy it could work out in your favor.

Kayle: Not much synergy with Kalista's ult, but does provide invulnerability, kiting power, and medium amounts of sustain. As mentioned in the comment section, her AOE autos do also proc Kalista's W passive as well.

Malphite: Little in the way of peel outside his ultimate, but initiates twice as far with Kalista ult. Preferably though, he would just knock up with Kalista ult the first time and then use his own ultimate, since using both ultimates at maximum range will likely leave him very far from his teammates in a position of no follow-up potential.

If you have more ideas for supports, feel free to leave them in the comments section. Meanwhile, check out these two videos below for more Kalista goodies!

Thanks for reading.


Kalista wall jumping by Jeremy GamingCurious

Kalista Interrupting Lee Sin's Ultimate Using Passive by Conall Mc Carthy

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  1. Jonathas De AndradeFebruary 02, 2015

    i've played a fairly amount of matches with her, and the best combination i've pulled off with some friends on skype is kalista/voli.
    we both do statikk first item, then he goes for the tanky path, it worked 90% of the time on 10~13 matches. you shoud give it a try.

  2. SSJSuntasticFebruary 02, 2015

    That sounds like an interesting combo!

  3. Aaseem D. KapilFebruary 02, 2015

    Kalista is meant to have tanky supports. ~ I have played with "random" Kalista as J4, Garen, Shen, Volibear, Alistar and Sejuani. All these champs although not supports especially Garen work really well with Kalista and can make game changing plays even without utilizing ultimate attacks. I mentioned Garen twice because Kalista with Runan and Garen with Judgement can burst down whole teams in a teamfight.

  4. I've played support Nunu to a Kalista a few times, and it went pretty well. The double ult initiation is a bit soft in comparison to, say, Galio or Annie, but Blood Boil on top of Runaan's makes Rend slightly ridiculous. And Kal can use all the out-of-combat mobility she can get.

  5. JushtFinishtFebruary 02, 2015

    Wonder why Kayle isn't listed as an off-meta support? Being that Runaan's Hurricane is a relatively cheap item, even for a support, she could go Sightstone + Lucidity Boots + Hurricane for a decent midgame that will amplify Kalista's W passive damage in teamfights. Not to mention she can ult herself in a teamfight if she gets focused after the Kalista ult.

  6. you forgot alistar, who has great synergy with kalista and isnt even an unusual pick

  7. Kevin RobinsonFebruary 03, 2015

    I'm a big fan of playing zyra support and fine I don't mind being thrown at the enemy team one bit as long as I have my ult off cool down. After I'm thrown in the knock up gives me enough time to throw down my ult combo. Those who aren't snared are running away so they don't get knocked a second time.

  8. SSJSuntasticFebruary 03, 2015

    That works, I'll add her to the list. I think in terms of Kayle's ult however, that it operates similar to Lulu/Zilean and would probably be best saved for someone else.

  9. SSJSuntasticFebruary 03, 2015

    True, Alistar does fairly well with Kalista

  10. Strangely had some successes with Ashe supporting Kalista. Kalista ulting onto the carry, and Ashe ult as soon as the carry lands is a solid lockdown. Building a Black Cleaver on Ashe (after sightstone) allows her to shred armor. Q Slow + Armor Shred benefits even the worst Kalista. Not saying it's popular or even a good suggestion, but it's been working for me.

  11. Im gonna have to mention Braum here since you seem to have forgotten him. Braums ult wih Kalistas calls for insane lockdown
    That with his passive and the fact that kalista builds so much attack speed puts him as the best possible support for kalista IMO

  12. Lionel AlmaidaFebruary 03, 2015

    I think that Blitz is a pretty good combo. You drop him into the action and there's one guy who will need to flash+ghost+tp+GA to successfully escape...

  13. Lionel AlmaidaFebruary 03, 2015

    I forgot to mention Lissandra. Jump in, ult, jump out. GG. xD

  14. El Poro MustachitoFebruary 03, 2015

    When you explain the reason soraka might lack some synergy with her, you're considering kalista's ultimate to have only it's agressive path. I, tho, consider her ultimate to be something more dinamic: Such as lulu skills, it can be used different ways, as it pleases. Imagine a situation in witch soraka and kalista are trading damage in lane and soraka already healed kalista so much she(soraka)'s close to death. Kalista ults her, she gets away alife, kalista is still full health and probably does a double kill considering the damage trade lasted long enough for soraka to heal her nine times (90% of sorakas hp, in other words). Consider how many E stacks kalista might have proc so far <3.
    With Soraka's rework, starcall is now an essential part of her sustain in lane. That means it should, in terms, only be used to heal herself after spending her own life healing her marksman. However, doing it means she would just have her autoattacks as poke weapons in lane. Kalista's W passive and soraka's 550 aa range solves that, making their poke in lane annoying while maintaining soraka's Q for sustain purposes, instead of a peeling or zoning skill. Imagine they're able of landing AAs, kalista's Q+E and, if they receive damage back, soraka heals her marksman and lands her Q too. Annoying.
    I agree Kalista's ultimate is much better used as an all in skill and that she synergizes better with champions as annie, leona, blitz and stuff, but i really think she can do well with soraka, it's just a different playing style.

  15. El Poro MustachitoFebruary 03, 2015

    i would also risc to say they could be even somewhat broken if kalista maxed e>w>q>r, but i'm not sure cause I never tried out.

    With W and E maxed, autoattacking at the same time would mean 20% enemies' max health with Sentinel's passive (more then vayne's silver bolts maxed lololololo), 32 ad per Rend's passive and 60 ad by it's active, not to mention the ad ratios. Imagine the enemy marksman is level 12 and has 1000 life. W's passive hitting him 3 times would mean losing 500 hp, 50% of his health, without counting anything else as kalista's own aa damage, E stacks, E active, soraka's aa or anything. The downside is it has 50 seconds recharge time.

    (maxing R last cause it has no damage or steroind or anything that would make it worth maxing)

  16. El Poro MustachitoFebruary 03, 2015

    i would also risc to say they could be even somewhat broken if kalista maxed e>w>q>r, but i'm not sure cause I never tried out.

    With W and E maxed, autoattacking at the same time would mean 20% enemies' max health with Sentinel's passive (more then vayne's silver bolts maxed lololololo), 32 ad per Rend's passive and 60 ad by it's active, not to mention the ad ratios. It's like hitting two vayne's maxed silver bolts in just one aa with a 50 seconds recharge time downside.

    (maxing R last cause it has no damage or steroind or anything that would make it worth maxing)

  17. And what happends with braum? the combo with kalista is so OP

  18. Add Maokai to Offmeta its more in meta the Kayle support

  19. you forgot about braum lol

  20. Marcelo RamosFebruary 03, 2015

    Great article. I must say that Gragas support also is pretty nasty with Khalista, as both have % HP damage, slows and can close or escape very fast on people.

  21. Hey SSJ, thoughts on her synergy with Vel'Koz support?

  22. TyrionKillsTywinFebruary 04, 2015

    Like Zyra, but without that CC ultimate. Velkoz needs to poke from far away, and that gapcloser is not going to help him.


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  24. SSJSuntasticFebruary 04, 2015

    I'd say it's similar to Lux, but does give him more room to channel his laser.

  25. Sona is good with Kalista.

  26. Miles AtchisonFebruary 05, 2015

    Throwing a Nautalis in the enemy team would be hilarious.

  27. Should look into Gnar support with Kalista. He has that manaless poke + the synergy between her and Mega Gnar. Ult Gnar in as his rage is building = Knock up + Stun + Another stun and a ton of damage. When both ults are down Gnar offers some nice poke and damage. (Not to mention his slow + her slow for chasing).

    Gnar Counters Kalista as a fighter and goes well with her as a sup.

  28. Friend and I have been using Kallista/Teemo for a couple months now

  29. I just noticed this after coming back to this a bunch, when you talk about the synergy of range supports and Kali's W, you say 1.5 seconds in between, and every 8 seconds, they buffed this a few patches ago and now its 2 seconds in between and every 6 seconds they can do the W passive

  30. Anyone tried Kalista-Azir? I tried it last week while pubbing with 3 mates (the random player had to support me huehue) and my support picked Azir. I thought why not, I'll go Kalista. I regretted it in load in when we were up against a Cait-Leona bot lane and I remembered Azir soldiers don't proc on hit effects.
    Turns out they do! We hit level 2 first (W start) and Cait had to leave lane before level 4. And she didn't miss play, just as soon as she went for CS, Azir W>Q'd her and I Q'd her for the W proc.
    Not only was lane a total breeze, our team fighting was great, despite our Azir not being on Curse with us. I would throw him in, he'd get knockups and ult the enemy team back to us to pick apart. Or when he went for the back line dive a couple times with his ult, I ulted him to safety. If he didn't have ult, he'd just W>Q and I would be able to get in range to finish them off.

  31. Kalista best build path is actually :
    BOTRK -> Berserker Greaves -> Hurricane -> Last Whisper -> BT -> Black Cleaver

  32. Not enough AD. BOTRK + Hurricane early *can* be good but you need to follow up with ad and then last whisperer and then more ad. With your build the armour pen isn't doing much until you get your bt, and you dont ever crit.

  33. Eramnius Dw Sári ZénóFebruary 17, 2015

    a tricky idea is botlane yasuo. works best against poke lanes cus of the wall, but anyway you build him as usual and make it a frigtening kill nae. it does not work when they don't push and playing passive, but yasuo can ult at kalista's ult, ofc. and the funniest thing is the duble knockup that they can provide.

  34. Ross YahnkeMarch 15, 2015

    I've gotta agree with leona as ideal sup in solo queue, the lack of communication is so intense it's just not good to have a sup that requires that kind of communication to pull off the lane.

  35. Add nautilus to god tier kalista synergy support, justt thinking about makes me wanna puke


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