As it is expected with every new expansion, new cards come and shake up the metagame, creating new decks to be competitive and others out the door. The early days of Forces from Beyond expansion have confirmed this trend, with Kai’Sa taking over the ladder and becoming the one to beat.
Over the last few days, even if Illaoi regained the top spot with a whooping 11.5% play rate, Kai’Sa is by far the most played champion in Legends of Runeterra competitive environment. Her solo deck represents 8% of the metagame and her pairing with Sivir is 5.4%, adding up to over 13% total.
In this guide, I will go in depth on the best performing Kai’Sa deck – Kai’sa Sivir – now that things look like they are settling down before the potential balance patch on August 17. Although it isn’t the most popular Kai’Sa deck for some reason, through exploring the decklists, potential replacement or matchups, let’s analyze how Kai’Sa managed to become one of the best champion in today’s game.
Decklist and Concepts
Although she is the flag for the new Evolve keyword, Kai’Sa feels much better as a standalone card, slotted in decks designed to level her up by turn 5. As such, the overall concept of the deck could be summed up to a simple headline: Play for Kai’Sa.
It might sound counterintuitive at first, considering Demacia and Shurima are both renowned regions for their good followers, and well capable of dominating the combat phase even when not finding their champions. However, it is absolutely fine throwing several of them to be dealt with if it means Kai’Sa can come down leveled up on turn 5 (or 6 if we are attacking on even turn).
When she hits the board, Kai’Sa becomes the centerpiece for the deck. Her Second Skin allows some scaling over time, gaining keywords from other units. Her big body is quite resilient to everything that is not hard removal, which then can be mitigated with Spellshield. Finally most of all, Kai’Sa even contributes to controlling the opposing board upon attack, transforming cards like Cataclysm or Golden Aegis into potential defensive tools.
Thanks to our signature champion being an all-around great card, she eclipses the need of most other cards in the deck to contribute like they would be required other decks. As long as they provide keyword for the Evolve condition, and can help us stay relevant on the board, not taking too much damage to our Nexus before Kai’Sa arrives, they contribute in their own way. Even Sivir, who otherwise would be the focal unit in other decks, is relayed to granting keywords and becomes a “we didn’t draw Kai’Sa” kind of card when it comes to whether we want to invest into it.
As for the spells, most of them are focused on the combat phase and looking to help dominate said part of the game. They tend to be focused around 2 main areas of our gameplan which are protecting Kai’Sa or taking good advantage what she can do. Rounding up the very champion-centered strategy of this deck, which judges most cards based on the question “How much helpful is this towards making Kai’Sa impossible to stop?”.
Tech Cards and Options
A good card draw in a deck that otherwise runs 0, Preservarium tends to be cut after a few games where we draw well. While it can help against slower strategies, the current metagame is very centered around being able to enforce your gameplan onto the opponent. As such, Kai’Sa Sivir would usually prefer more tempo oriented options rather than improve its stability.
Most cards with double keywords card are a consideration in this deck, and Silverwing Diver could be mentioned here as well. While these cards were included in the deck at first, and are more common in the mono Kai’Sa deck who gains a bit of space from removing Sivir, the logic for not playing those cards is simply to try and have the strongest possible ones.
As such, Greenfang Warden contributes to the idea of leveling Kai’Sa rapidly, but lacks a bit in the raw power department.
Probably the best 1 drop in Shurima, Treasure Seeker suffers from not possessing any keyword. The card still is a consideration as it is arguably a very strong one, the Waking Sands we gain from her summon being very flexible to trade or push damage.
Put your faith in Kai’Sa
In case the first part of this article wasn’t clear enough: We are playing a Kai’Sa deck, and as a Kai’Sa deck, most of our gameplan should be executed with the idea that Kai’Sa will be doing the heavy lifting for us. Obviously, Sivir can be a problem for our opponent, the same way Radiant Guardian is able to win us a game against a burn-oriented deck. It is also valid to take somewhat of a defensive stance for a bit, focusing on Merciless Hunter or Petricite Broadwing to set up good trades for us. However, we should always have a spot somewhere in our projected strategy for when and how are we playing Kai’Sa.
I have seen several players point out how volatile the deck can be when you do not draw your key champion, making it too much of a gamble. But the numbers speak for themselves, and this deck reached its current because Kai’Sa is in it. As a result, playing it comes with the condition to accept centering our gameplan around her in most situations.
Look to keep your best keywords alive
Most of the units we play through the course of leveling up Kai’Sa can be considered disposable. Despite that, in order for Kai’Sa to reach her full potential, she needs to have a target for her Second Skin, meaning we could be looking to keep some units alive, at the cost of a bit of nexus health.
Valor tends to be the best target for Second Skin, and we can simply store some mana in order to summon it the same turn we would play Kai’Sa. Other premium targets are Sivir and Petricite Broadwing, as Spellshield and Challenger tend to be the strongest keywords alongside Quick Attack, which Kai’Sa naturally possess.
If you aren’t under immediate pressure, or know that the opposing decks aren’t packing a ton of damage, you could consider letting an attack go through or voluntarily not attacking for a turn in order to maximize the chances of keeping a powerful keyword available for Kai’Sa.
Force your opponent to play onto the board
While we do have Spellshield, or even Lifesteal in our keyword arsenal, we would rather make the game about who can stop the other deck on the board rather than have it become a spell-based match. Thanks to her attacking ability, and the pressure she represents, Kai’Sa is capable of handling the opposing board very efficiently once leveled up. As such, even if we are behind on the board, we could get it back under control in a couple attacks.
Keep a proactive mindset – initiative is key!
This is probably the biggest thing to have success with this deck: Fight for development of your board at all times. Even Kai’Sa, as good as she is at pushing damage or dealing with the opposing board, isn’t as effective when trailing compared to when the game is contested, or if you are ahead.
While you don’t need to be aggressive or take any unnecessary risks, I would always fight to keep initiative with this deck. This will force the opponent to be on the back foot, spending resources on other units than Kai’Sa before she comes down and at the same time also allowing you to focus on your units, which are the core of the deck’s gameplan.
Matchups and Mulligan Guide
– Annie Twisted Fate – Very Favored
- Kai’Sa gaining Spellshield and Sivir are both nightmares to deal with for the opponent. We want to work to be able to play them in the best possible setup.
- While our early game is able to deal some damage, we mostly want to make sure we level up Kai’Sa while forcing some resources out of our opponent’s hand. If your opponent gives you a pass that is looking good on, don’t feel forced to attack.
- The goal in this match up is to exhaust our opponent’s answers in terms of spells. Thanks to Quick Attack, we should be dominating the unit’s fighting part.
- While it is tempting, try not to play around too many things as you can’t plan all the different removal the opponent has access to. A stun is usually the most annoying thing during an attacking turn.
– Bard Illaoi – Favored
- This is as close to a mirror match as it gets. Both decks are fighting to be able to play their biggest threats proactively.
- Without board presence, neither deck is able to do much in terms of pressure. Clearing the board can often be the safest bet, especially if we have Kai’Sa as a follow-up.
- Once we get to the later stages of the game, our nexus becomes a very valuable resource in order to be able to avoid blocking with important units. Alternatively, being able to get damage in early would force the opponent to block with said units.
- Once leveled up, only Tentacle Smash or being vulnerable can deal with Kai’Sa. Look to remove the Tentacle if possible to avoid this possibility and keep Kai’Sa safe.
– Nami Twisted Fate – Favored
Mulligan for: Kai’Sa | Good curve of units
- This matchup is a race: Our capacity to develop as much pressure as possible against our opponent resilience to stay alive until they can get the Nami plus Elusive units going.
- Overwhelm is a great keyword in this matchup, as the opponent is very likely to use small blockers. Compared to other match ups where we might be looking for more sustainability on the board, we want to think more about the damage in this one.
- Fearsome is another way to get some damage in early, before Nami starts buffing opposing units.
- Outside Twisted Fate, there is very little punish to developing our board before attacking. Growing our board will also help to level Sivir faster.
- Quicksand can buy us a lot of time if the game goes long, and we have to deal with the elusive units going for our nexus. It also gives us some value on cheap units we can use as chump blockers.
– Yasuo Katarina – Even
- The stun mechanic can be quite a problem for the deck, and would force us to open attack to avoid Arachnoid Sentry and such cards. While Kai’Sa still is the focus, we are looking for more of a wide board in this match up. Cataclysm is a fine workaround too.
- Similarly to Annie Twisted Fate, it is impossible to play around everything in this match. Try to push for what your hand does well, and the more obvious punishes. Even if you anticipate a punish, remember you should be the proactive deck in the match up.
- Merciless Hunter and Petricite Broadwing are very important to remove Yasuo or Fae Bladetwirler. It will also force stuns and spells out of the opponent’s hand.
- Sivir leveling up and granting Spellshield to our whole board is a game winner. Consider delaying her to protect her from losing her Spellshield before she can attack or level up.
– Azirelia – Slightly Unfavored
Mulligan for: Early curve for pressure | Champions, Radiant Guardian with a good hand
- This matchup is an all out race where the opponent is slightly faster to get to the finish line. We need to get going and accept losing health as part of the deal.
- The bigger punishes in our opponent’s deck are the recalls, which we can mitigate with Spellshield. Don’t look for the perfect set up if you are behind already, but you can if you are ahead.
- Sivir is quite easy to level up on Irelia‘s Blades, which enables a big push later on if we can manage the aggression. Radiant Guardian is another way to abuse the blades.
- Quicksand and Sharpsight should deal with their elusive units like Greenglade Duo. Make sure you have a unit to block with at all times.
– Elise Gwen – Unfavored
Apart from the stun mechanic, most of the takes for this matchup apply to Annie Jhin as well.
- As Spider decks tend to go wide onto the board, it is impossible for us to block every unit. If you can look for value blocks early on, quickly protect your nexus to stay safe from direct damage later on.
- Fearsome attackers can be troublesome early in the game, as our first able blocker is Merciless Hunter. If your opponent is only playing fearsome attackers, consider keeping your mana for a potential comeback later on. Consider using Quicksand to remove Fearsome if that translates to a lot of health saved.
- Gwen is the first step towards our opponent focusing on direct damage, ideally, we would like to stabilize the board before she can come down.
- Kai’Sa allows racing the opponent back, but Radiant Guardian is how we stabilize our health pool. Depending on the state of the game, one is always better than the other.
If you have been around LoR related social media, you probably saw the popular demand for Kai’Sa being nerfed. Alongside Bard, the champion has been dominating the field of play, up to a point that many are openly saying they are waiting for a nerf to get back to the game.
While counters do exist, mostly in the form of super aggressive decks, looking to end the game before Kai’Sa can be too much of an impact. Even decks that historically were doing great against board-centric strategies like Ezreal Caitlyn or now Yasuo Katarina are relegated to being evenly matched at best.
This unbalance in the usual matchup spread for a deck shows how powerful Kai’Sa is, and why so many players have decided to build around the champion. And apart from Bard Illaoi, it is difficult to fault them for doing so.
Good Game Everyone,