Kayn, the Shadow Reaper, is a powerful Jungler in League of Legends who was introduced in patch 7.15 in July 2017. With a unique transformation mechanic, Kayn can evolve into either a lethal assassin, Rhaast the Darkin Scythe, or a swift fighter, Shadow Assassin, during the course of a match depending on which form best suits the game state.
First designed as a “darkin jungler”, Kayn wields an ancient, sentient weapon called Rhaast that gradually attempts to corrupt and control him as the game progresses. By defeating enemy champions, Kayn gains orbs that allow him to evolve into one of his two possible forms. Choosing to resist Rhaast allows Kayn to transform into the agile Shadow Assassin, while giving in to the darkin weapon makes him the dreadful Rhaast.
With high damage, sustain, and mobility, Kayn excels at ganking lanes and skirmishing in the jungle. His unique E ability, Shadow Step, allows him to traverse terrain and traverse walls for unpredictable flanks and chases. Kayn’s mastery curve is quite steep, but in the hands of a skilled player his flexible transformations make him a potent threat able to shred tanks, squishies, and objectives alike.
In this Kayn Guide, we’ll explore Kayn’s abilities, recommended item builds, runes, good matchups and counters, and overall tips and tricks for mastering the Shadow Reaper.
This quick-footed, living weapon offers deep strategic choices and gameplay full of tension. For both seasoned jungle veterans and newcomer edgelords alike, mastering Kayn offers a unique League experience.
Kayn – Abilities
Passive – The Darkin Scythe
Kayn’s iconic passive ability is The Darkin Scythe, which represents his sentient, corrupting shadow weapon, Rhaast. This passive is what enables Kayn’s unique transformation mechanic. As Kayn deals damage against enemy champions, he will collect Darkin Scythe orbs from his opponents. Once he has accumulated enough orbs, Kayn can return to base to transform into either Shadow Assassin or Rhaast the Darkin Scythe depending on which form he chooses to embrace.
The evolution requires orbs to activate. You’ll want to prioritize ganks and champion takedowns early on to accelerate this process and unlock your powerful forms sooner rather than later. Transforming into Rhaast makes Kayn an unstoppable duelist who excels at sustaining himself in fights using his AoE damage and healing. Choosing Shadow Assassin makes Kayn extremely mobile and able to swiftly take down squishy targets.
Make sure to carefully consider which form suits your team’s needs and the state of the game when deciding on which transformation will give you the biggest edge. A well-timed evolution spike can hugely swing a match in your favor.
Mastering The Darkin Scythe passive is core to playing Kayn. The risk/reward duality of wielding this sentient weapon offers unique gameplay compared to any other League champion. Unlock your potential with the right transformation at the right time.
Also read: League of Legends: Top 5 Jungle Champions
Q – Reaping Slash
Reaping Slash (Q) is Kayn’s scythe attack that slices in a wide arc, damaging all enemies struck. It’s his main damage ability that also restores a portion of the damage dealt as health. Reaping Slash is great for wave clear, jungle clears, harass, and skirmishes. The sustain built into the ability gives Kayn staying power while fighting champions and taking objectives. It deals bonus damage against monsters, making it efficient for clearing camps.
A key tip is to try and hit multiple enemies with Reaping Slash to maximize your damage and healing. The ability slices in a wide swath, so you can clip multiple minions or champions if positioned correctly.
Overall, Reaping Slash is the ability you’ll be using most on Kayn. Master using it to effectively waveclear, sustain your health, and deal reliable AoE damage in teamfights. Angle the ability to damage as many targets as possible to get the most out of each cast.
W – Blade’s Reach
Blade’s Reach (W) sends a blade in a target direction that damages and slows the first enemy struck. It’s great for chasing down targets or setting up ganks. A key benefit of Blade’s Reach is the slow it applies. Hitting an opponent with this ability slows their movement speed by 90% for 1 second, making it much easier to stay on top of them.
Use Blade’s Reach to catch enemies that are trying to escape, either finishing them off or allowing your team to collapse on them. It’s also very helpful when ganking lanes – fire it at an unsuspecting laner to cripple their movement right before you leap in.
Blade’s Reach becomes even better once evolved. As Rhaast, knocks up enemies hit for 1 second. As Shadow Assassin, the area of damage is extended and Kayn can now cast it while moving.
Proper use of Blade’s Reach is what enables Kayn to stick to his targets. Look to fire it off as engage or chase tool to lock opponents down. The crippling slow pairs perfectly with your other abilities.
E – Shadow Step
Shadow Step (E) is Kayn’s signature mobility spell, allowing him to pass through terrain and structures. Proper use of Shadow Step is what makes Kayn such a formidable jungle threat.
Activating Shadow Step causes Kayn to dash through walls, gaining 40% movement speed and ignoring collision for 7-9 seconds based on ability rank. This allows you to swiftly traverse the map, gank lanes from unexpected angles, and escape dangerous situations. Upon entering terrain, Kayn heals for 90-130 health (+45% bonus AD) and gains vision inside walls. However, taking or dealing champion damage reduces the duration to just 1.5 seconds.
The key is using Shadow Step to find flanking paths and walls that the enemy won’t expect. Approach unsuspecting laners from behind towers or cut through the jungle to surprise them. You can also use it to engage teamfights from hidden angles. Mastering the terrain and vision mechanics is vital to effective map pressure as Kayn.
When evolved into Shadow Assassin, the cooldown gets reduced, giving even greater mobility. Kayn also gains 70% movement speed in terrain and 100% slow resistance for deadly elusive flanks.
Overall, proper Shadow Step usage enables Kayn to be an unpredictable constant threat. Master the ability to fully embody the ever-present Shadow Reaper.
R – Umbral Trespass
Kayn’s ultimate ability, Umbral Trespass (R), allows him to instantly enter and damage a target enemy champion. It’s an extremely powerful executive tool with battlefield-shaping potential. Activating Umbral Trespass causes Kayn to dash a fixed distance through terrain and any enemies in his path. If he collides with a champion, he forcefully enters and suppresses them for a short duration while repeatedly damaging and healing himself.
Umbral Trespass is great for assassinating key carries or isolated targets. The burst damage and sustain can quickly finish off low-health champions. Even tankier targets can’t escape once targeted by the ability. Try to use Umbral Trespass to instantly delete dangerous enemies before a fight breaks out or as soon as a team fight begins. Removing a threat immediately gives your team an advantage. The healing sustain keeps Kayn ready for further combat afterward.
The ability truly shines once Kayn evolves forms. As Rhaast, the damage greatly increases based on the target’s maximum health. As Shadow Assassin, casting becomes ranged, enabling safer assassinations.
With practice, Umbral Trespass can turn the tide of any skirmish or team fight. Look for opportunities to decisively remove priority targets and heal up for continued havoc as the ever-present Shadow Reaper.
Kayn – Items and Runes
To fully optimize his assassin or bruiser playstyle, Kayn must tailor his item build and rune choices carefully based on which form he evolves into during a match.
As Shadow Assassin, Duskblade is core for its Nightstalker invisibility passive, and armor penetration. Youmuu’s Ghostblade is crucial for its active speed boost that enables chasing down and deleting squishy carries. Serylda’s Grudge penetrates through tanks and bruisers. Other great options include Edge of Night to block incoming crowd control, Guardian Angel for an extra life, Umbral Glaive for vision control, and Maw of Malmortius when facing magic damage threats. Mobility Boots enhance Shadow Assassin’s ability to roam and gank at lightning speed.
For primary runes, First Strike enables more aggressive invades and duels since Kayn will win most scuttle crab fights with the extra damage amp. It also makes early ganks more lethal when combined with his E burst. The gold generated from damaging enemy champions can be up to 2000 extra gold by the late game, letting Kayn hit huge item power spikes faster. While Electrocute or Conqueror have more sustained value in team fights, First Strike gives Kayn immense snowball potential in the early game. An early lead means quicker form evolution so Kayn can take over.
For Rhaast, Black Cleaver synergizes perfectly with his AoE kit. Death’s Dance. Spirit Visage amplifies all healing by 25%, pushing Rhaast’s durability to new heights. Sterak’s Gage. Tank items like Deadman’s Plate, Force of Nature, Randuin’s Omen, or Thornmail should be mixed in to counter enemy damage threats.
Kayn – Counters
Kayn faces stiff competition from other meta junglers who can invade and disrupt his early game. Rammus poses issues with his Powerball rolling into taunts and reflected damage from Defensive Ball Curl. Lillia outpaces Kayn’s clear speed and can steal camps away with her absurd movement speed from Blooming Blows passive. Rek’Sai‘s strong early game dueling with Queen’s Wrath knock-ups and Furious Bites true damage lets her pressure Kayn in his own jungle.
Rengar jumps on isolated targets using his passive Leap, threatening Kayn when alone in his jungle. Finally, Kha’Zix bullies Kayn pre-form using Taste Their Fear sustain and Void Spikes to slow and shred his health. These champions all have tools to contest Kayn in the jungle and delay his transformation power spike. Careful pathing and vision control is key to survive against these strong early-game junglers.
Kayn – Tips and Tricks
Mastering Kayn requires excelling at both his base form and maximizing the power of his transformation. Focus on efficient clearing by kiting camps with Q and Talisman heal to stay healthy. Look to gank overextended lanes pre-form using E flanking and W slows. Track the enemy jungler and counter-gank when possible to accelerate orb collection. Once transformed, play to your win condition whether it’s assassinating carries as SA or shredding tanks as Rhaast.
Keep constantly farming between ganks to hit item spikes. Use unique E paths to pressure the map, looking for cheeky objectives and deep vision. Help enable your laners to snowball leads. Counterbuild intelligently based on team comps. Kayn scales incredibly well, so play for mid/late-game team fights. Mastering his mechanics takes time, but the payoff of perfectly executed flanking team wipes is immense. Patience and practice are key to unlocking Kayn’s potential as a flexibly powerful jungler.
In conclusion, Kayn is a highly versatile jungler whose full potential relies on mastering his unique transformation mechanics and playstyles. Learning to wield his living darkin scythe to collect orbs swiftly and transform at key timings is essential. Tailoring his builds, runes, and play patterns to the assassin or bruiser form chosen in each game is equally vital.
While difficult to play perfectly, Kayn rewards dedicated players with immense outplay potential and adaptable win conditions. Whether ambushing squishies as Shadow Assassin or becoming an unkillable drain tank as Rhaast, the path to mastery brings lethal, satisfying outplays. For those seeking a jungle champion with strategic choices that pay off in moments of shadowy chaos, Kayn stands in a league of his own. Harness his strengths as two champions in one, and you too can reap the living essence of the enemy team.If you are looking to enhance your League of Legends gameplay and win easy games, you should check out our LoL Scripts as they will help you achieve higher ranks in League of Legends.