Strategy Theorycrafting 6

“Serenade” Kestrel Build Guide and Explanation

serenade kestrel build

As Kestrel would say, welcome to my crosshairs! This build was originally designed for messing around in Blitz mode, but players may find success in Standard mode as well. If you’re a Kestrel player and want to have fun trying out a new build that has been optimized by analysts, then you’re in luck.

Build Information

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  • Standard Mode Roles — Jungler (primary), Middle Laner (flex pick)
  • Playstyle — aggressive, ability-focused artillery mage
  • Strengths — dual offensive path, high damage, sufficient escape, snowball potential, both Active Camo perks unlocked
  • Weaknesses — expensive build, easily counterable, no Reflex Block
  • Synergies — Catherine, Lance, heroes with lockdown crowd control
  • Counters — Fortress, Catherine, Flicker, heroes that are hard to kill or can body block (unless using Legendary talent), heroes with lockdown crowd control
  • Major Power Spikes — level 6, level 8, Broken Myth purchase, level 12
  • Minor Power Spikes — first levels, first Spellsword, level 9
  • Favorable Matchups — heroes that are squishy or skewed toward late game
  • Recommended Talent — Piercing Shot (Legendary), Active Reload (Epic)

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  • In standard mode, start with Weapon Blade and Crystal Bit. If the matchup is unfavorable, start with double Weapon Blade.
  • At first shop, buy two Crystal Bits. Then, start building into your first Spellsword. Purchasing multiple Crystal Bits provides you with massive damage but delays your first Spellsword. Balance out your purchases to obtain Spellsword at the 5 minute mark in Standard mode.
  • Sprint Boots is optional toward the beginning of the match, but once you start acquiring crystal power, it’s unnecessary and should be sold to opt for the rest of the damage items.
  • When building into Shatterglass, Eclipse Prism and Crystal Bit is better than Heavy Prism.
  • If the enemy has Kinetic Shield, Fountain of Renewal, Aegis, Slumbering Husk, or equal or greater than 65 added shield, consider building Broken Myth before your first Shatterglass. Keep in mind that this will provide you with more damage in exchange for less duration on your Active Camo (B) stealth.
  • You need ~350 added crystal power for Spellfire to fair better than Shatterglass on Kestrel. Thus, you must have either two Shatterglasses and Broken Myth OR Heavy Prism before you purchase Spellfire.
  • If the enemy has less than an Aegis, Slumbering Husk, or equal or greater than 75 added shield, you may skip Broken Myth for Spellfire.
  • Weapon Power Infusion is necessary for instant invisibility. Additionally, it reduces Glimmershot (A) cooldown by 0.2 seconds (arrow reload time).

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  • In Blitz, if you’re running Kestrel’s Legendary talent, you’re fighting around your ultimate, which has a 5.4 second cooldown with the level 5 Legendary talent (10.8 seconds with level 1), or 18 seconds without the Legendary talent.
  • If you’re in Blitz but not running the Legendary talent, play her like a normal crystal powered Kestrel. Remember that you have instant Active Camo activation, very low cooldowns on your abilities, and rely heavily on your heroic perk and basic attacks to retain energy. To maximize your damage, you need to go in closer proximity.
  • For Standard mode, play as a jungler preferably, but middle lane also works. If you play her in middle lane, you must make rotations to buffs and take them as well as gank other lanes.
  • At level 2, you can alternatively put two points into Glimmershot (A) if you feel like you’re more effective with pure damage.
  • It’s recommend to point skip at level 6 to put four points into your Glimmershot, but this is unnecessary.
  • You should be taking the buffs and bottom jungle. It’s up to your team if they want to share gold and experience, but it’s highly recommended that you do so.
  • The build is expensive, and you need to get fed. Gank & siege frequently and acquire kills in lane. Kestrel excels at both ganking and sieging.
  • Energy problems are solved with your first Spellsword (purchase at 5:00 in 5V5). Energy shouldn’t be too big of a problem early game if you utilize your heroic perk, Adrenaline.
  • If you do not have a Weapon Infusion, you must play back against sticky enemy teams, as you will have a 0.5 second cooldown on Active Camo whenever you take damage.

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  • The build forces the enemy team to buy Slumbering Husk (but the cooldown on your ultimate should be lower than the cooldown on Slumbering Husk). Thus, it denies quadruple offensive item builds or allowing multiple enemy Crucible purchases, if your team also has crowd control.
  • Positioning is not as significant when against teams with low amounts of crowd control. In these situations, your stealth is easier to maintain.
  • Winning the vision war is very important when running this build to avoid getting caught out. Forget about playing against Flicker!
  • This build is not expected to succeed in high tier Standard mode or competitive play. It was designed for Blitz, but happened to be decent in mid tier matches.
  • Duo queue with bottom laner (if jungle) or duo queue with captain (if middle lane) is recommended but not necessary.
  • Other crystal powered builds deal more damage with your ultimate in one cast; however, this build was created for damage per second, not burst. It’s the highest possible damage per second you can achieve with your ultimate.
  • The added movement speed from Active Camo is 1.54 with double Spellsword and Weapon Infusion. The activation movement speed from all boots is 2.75, and the passive of Travel Boots (tier 2) adds 0.3 movement speed.
  • The duration of all actives from every pair of boots (except Halcyon Chargers) is 2.0 seconds. The duration of Active Camo with double Shatterglasses (and 4 points into the ability) is 10.0 seconds.


Special thanks to my friend Serenade (hence the build’s name) for sharing the calculation work with me and Futron for helping with the first testing to create the current information. If you try the build, all feedback is appreciated for further optimization. I’d love to know how you do in both Blitz and Standard mode! As a side note, do the queue a favor — play it in Casual before considering Ranked.


  • Reply
    Sep 22, 2018 6:45 am

    I have won in 3v3 PVP mode on this build with the help of an Ardan Captain. THis build actually works.

  • Reply
    Aug 29, 2018 4:37 pm

    how do you deal with vision? this seems fully reliant on stealth

    • Reply
      Aug 30, 2018 9:28 pm

      Work with your allies to place counter vision, and stay on the very edges of fights!

  • Reply
    Aug 28, 2018 9:23 pm

    Happy regular articles are back!

  • Reply
    Aug 28, 2018 9:22 pm

    Happy these are back!

  • Reply
    Aug 28, 2018 6:13 pm

    If you like these types of articles, let us know! We’ll try to write more of ’em.

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