Maokai Build Guide by IAmCrimsonXero1
Not Updated For Current Season
Not Updated For Current Season
An Introduction To Maokai
As a forewarning, this guide is not complete and is still a work in progress
Maokai is one of the strongest, most viable tanks on the battlefield (it doesn't hurt that he's incredibly fun to play too!). This champ is often underrated and deserves a closer look by all summoners out there. If playing tank is getting you down, you deserve to try out this champ.
Pros & Cons
Pro's of Maokai
- Great Pusher/Initiator
- Great Chaser
- Can Take Damage for the team
- Great CC
- Great Damage for a Tank
Con's of Maokai
- Isn't the tankiest of tanks
- Silences can hurt
- At times experiences mana problems
- Has troubles soloing larger minions
To start out with, I strongly suggest going with magic pen. reds . The reason for this is that early on you can do a plethora of damage, even help gank the enemies' blue early (if you have team help). This will help your annoying little sapling do that extra amount of Damage. I have not found a great alternative to this rune, if you think you have, please comment.
Greater Seal of Replenishment
There are two options that I find useful for seals on Maokai, both the Greater Seals of Clarity and the Greater Seals of ReplenishmentGreater Seal of Replenishment. Really this comes down to preference and my personal recommendation would be to go with the Greater Seals of ReplenishmentGreater Seal of Replenishment. I prefer to have more mana regen early on rather than having a snowballing mana/regen effect over the course of time/leveling up.
Again there are two options that I recommend on Maokai for blue Glyph runes (with an optional third choice). These two options are the Greater Glyph of Focus and the Greater Glyph of Celerity . My preferred option would be to go with the Greater Glyph of Celerity, cool-downs in the end will be lower than they would be with the . You can also instead of going with CDR grab the Greater Glyphs of Shielding for that boost in your MR, which some find essential against caster champs.
For Quints I almost exclusively would go with the Greater Quintessence of Fortitude over anything. That extra boost in your health bar is essential for early game survival and surviving any early to mid game tower-dives. I honestly have not found a great alternative for this rune.
Guide to Maokai's Item Builds and Explanations
Core Item Build
For Situational Items read below
Core Item Build Explained:
These three items are essential to Maokai's Survivability and Damage. Without these items, I would render Maokai useless. The great thing about starting out with a doran's item is that gets you a boost in mana regen. (More saplings = more harass and more damage), early ability power (always a plus!), and extra health (survivability? yes please!). Merc. Treads are always a standard on any given tank as it should be, given the tenacity, and that essential early game M Res. It's been a long while since I've seen a tank use so I wouldn't want to consider those boots as a viable option for Maokai.
Mid Game Items Explained:
These two items are easily two of the best in their class as far as armor/resistance goes. will teach those pesky AD carries a lesson that they're barking up the wrong tree, and make them literally kill themselves without you having to do so much work. is essential in the sense that it gives you the best health regen in the game and a good bit of Magic Resistance. Because F.o.N. is your only Health Regen item, it had better be good. If you find yourself down on HP after a fight, just sit aside and regen your health to get back in if needbe.
Late Game Items Explained
Typically by now, the enemy will have bought some armor penetration and the often most feared item of all, . will help you out with that extra bit of M Res you are missing as well as giving you the all-important unique passive spell shield, along with some bonus Health and Mana. To top off your Build, Guardian Angel will come to your aid when you find yourself being focused by the entire enemy team. You are a tank right? It's ok to take damage, even die for the team, but in this case you won't have to. It also comes in handy in sticky situations where you might get chased down to no health, by the time you hit 0 health and have to use the G.A. active you should be getting team help (it should take a while to kill you).
Situational Items and explanations:
- The abyssal scepter is a great Item if your team is doing well offensively but needs that extra punch through enemy magic resistance. It is especially helpful to your friendly heavy caster. Your AP carry will love you for this item. Although mainly used for it's unique Aura, it gives you a hefty bit of magic resistance as well as a good bit of ability power. A very viable choice to include in your build if you would like to replace .
- Frozen Heart is an all around great item as it used to be in my main build but I swapped it out with Thornmail instead. It's unique aura slows down enemy AD carries attack speed as well as giving you the CDR passive. This item is typically used if you absolutely need reduced cool downs (which you get plenty of already with your ) and you feel that you will be fine without . It also gives you a hefty +99 Physical armor, although it is quite expensive in the long run.
- This item is any caster's favorite, especially non-mana based casters such as Kennen or Vladimir; do not forget that Maokai is caster as well!. This will give you a really good boost in damage. It should only be used in the case that you are absolutely dominating the enemy team (which has happened with me before, and it's a fun item to have as saplings just demolish their health). You must be 100% confident that you will win the game to use this item because it is so risky.
With Maokai, my preferred build is the 9/0/21 Mastery setup, with that extra point in Clarity to help your teammates out. The 0/9/21 build is also optional and viable as well but I do not personally recommend it if you wish to be doing damage. I firmly believe even though you are going with the 9/0/21 setup, your items will suffice for your tanking abilities.
- Clarity is essential for Maokai. Because the mana cost of and can get pretty high, you can fall back on this to help you out. It especially comes in handy in team fights, because you and your team won't typically run out of mana with this spell, or will atleast outlast the other team.
- Just an all around great summoner spell, you can almost never go wrong with it.
Ghost - This Spell is a viable alternative to . It has certain advantages that does not but also the disadvantage of not being able to get out of situations in which there is almost certain death. I've saved many a life using and have always used it since switching from ghost because it's just such a good summoner spell. Not discounting , because it too is a great summoner spell and is exceptional for chasing down carries that want to run away from you.
Clairvoyance - not recommended but a possible option in place of ghost or flash, can come in handy when trying to locate the enemies' jungler and go for an early gank.
Fortify - always an option but again not recommended
Ignite - this is a very viable spell to use, not typically recommended since you are not a carry, but it is useful for healing casters such as Fiddle, Vlad, Swain etc.
Exhaust - only a last resort against a team full of AD carries, use in place of flash
Don't Take these:
Teleport - Although a good spell, I believe this is a waste of a spell slot on Maokai, only because there are better spells to use on him.
Cleanse - Again a good spell, but a waste of a spell slot on Mao as well. Used best on Singed.
Rally - Never seen this spell used effectively so why try now?
Smite - Maokai can't jungle, so this is useless of course
Revive - don't be a troll
The Laning Phase
Maokai while quite possibly one of the strongest tanks, can also dish out a good amount of damage, and do not discredit his ability to dish out some good old tree magic.
The Laning Phase:
Bottom Lane - The most preferred way to play maokai is to lane bottom with an AD carry. Whether or not you get an AD carry bottom, that is a toss-up, try communicating this with your team while in the queue. Having that AD carry bottom will make your job much easier. It is essential for you to come back with a ward after each trip back to avoid being ganked by the jungler. IT IS IMPORTANT to Harass Often with your Sapling Toss and use your E, W, Q, R combo when you catch one of the two enemy champs overextending. It is quite possible to tower-dive with mao while in the laning phase as long as you are confident that you can get out without getting killed by those long range turrets. Flashoften comes in handy in that situation.
Soloing Top - Although not as effective as Maokai laning bottom, He does have the potential to solo top. Maokai does have real troubles with other solo lane champs like Singed and Cho' gath. For ways how to play solo top, read the Bot Lane guide above and apply it to top lane, but be very careful not to overextend as you are an easy kill for any jungler (which typically have a stun/slow/knock-up/silence on them).