Graves Build Guide by S0lace
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Graves is by far my favorite AD. After playing a lot of Ezreal in normal I started to play Graves. At first I thought he was ridiculously weak after the nerf and couldn't stand up to Tristana's passive range increase, Miss Fortune's and raw damage.
After playing over 300 ranked games with Graves, I feel I understand the champion versus all his match-ups.
Though elo isn't skill, more than often it does give some credibility, so here it is.
Typical AD carry runes. Attack damage rather than armor pen allows for easier last hitting. I've tried both, and the difference is extremely noticeable.
Technically the trade off of going armor pen over AD is more damage to champions. More than often you're just going to be farming, especially Graves hits harder with more AD anyway.
It's preference, but AD is generally better.
Standard AD carry utility masteries. After his nerf the mana costs went up, and 21/0/9 really gives you a stronger presence because you can spam a lot more.
Why I don't go 21/9/0:
Yes, the defensive tree gives Graves even more tankiness that complements his passive armor and MR. You'll find yourself ooming a lot quicker and not really having as strong a presence when sitting <100 mana, unable to do your QR combo on people.
You win trades and get free damage through Buckshot, not as much your autos (as trying to exchange with Kogmaw/MF autos is ridiculous with their amplifiers).
This is the standard AD carry progression.
First: and x3
First Back: x2 +
Upgrade your boots to
If the enemy team is super armor heavy, you may want to go before
Defensive Items: or .
You can get either of these items around the time you are building your , say if you're getting warwick ulted, focused by a mage and need MR, or really any type of CC.
Typically you want to get QSS over GA if you do have to get an early defensive item, and save GA for when you're extremely far ahead or it's end game.
Bloodthirster vs Infinity Edge
So there's a lot of talk about going BT or IE first on Graves. I went IE at first and it's really strong, but the sustain BT gives as well as raw damage with your Q and R burst is ridiculous. It makes you a stronger duelist because you lifesteal so much damage back, allowing you to 1v1 other AD carries so easily.
Rushing IE is still viable, it's just preference, and I feel right now BT rush is noticeably stronger.
I've seen a lot of people referring specific items that I feel don't live up to the damage output of the full AD build I've listed previously.
- Initially the slow and health seems nice. The 'survivability' comes from the health obviously. However, the innate squishiness of ADs with a small health modifier of 800 will hardly help in being bursted. The item itself isn't bad, but dedicating 2.8k gold for it is very inefficient in cost. Lifesteal from your is an underrated way to survive, especially with the amount of damage you do endgame.
- A lot of people are pretty set on using on this item on AD carries. I won't tell you not to use it, just my reasoning for ignoring it is that messes up your item progression. It -only- builds into Ghostblade, which I don't recommend for AD carries because the synergy of / / is so much stronger.
Just to give an idea, x2 gives you a total of 160 health + 20 damage + 6% lifesteal. This costs 475 each, so 950g. A brutalizer costs 1337g and gives you 25 AD + 15 ArP + 10% CDR. To me, I would prefer to go 3 Doran's over getting a brutalizer.
- The only time you should ever consider this on AD carries is if top lane and the jungle are both physical. Keep in mind it gives you armor, but you're sacrificing a lot of AD for defensive stats.
The plus side is that it gives you stronger laning, dragon control, and quicker Barons. I haven't built this recently, but if you do plan on using it make sure the AD carry isn't the only AD on their team because the armor will end up being useless.
Q - You max this first. Hit people with it, they die.
W - You level this at 4 and 8. This allows you to Buckshot creep waves then Smoke Screen does just enough damage to finish the caster minions (neat, huh?)
: E - Max this after you have two levels into your W.
: R - Level whenever you can. I'm pretty sure Buckshot hits harder when you're right in there face, so keep that in mind.
- Flash is necessary for positioning, as it allows you to clean up kills or escape ganks/bruisers focusing you during team fights. Properly flashing can make or break a lot of situations.
- This is what I run on Graves always. Bursting people with your Q + R + ignite makes getting kills so easy in lane. Your damage is pretty much unmatched in a 1 on 1 with all your CDs compared to other ADs.
- Not something I've used on Graves for a while. After seeing so many kills escape with <100 health I came to realize that he's meant to be snowballing off dominance and really just destroying other ADs in lane. Heal is safe. Come on, be a man and pick ignite.
- Not that much use on Graves. I mean it could help versus say , but you really shouldn't be getting hit, your E allows you to dash away safely from her ult, and the Smoke Screen provides a perfect disengage. Yeah, I still think is way better.
I figure I should address this situation with . As being a ranged damage dealer, you will not usually end up dueling people in an effective amount of time to have be useful. It is strong, yes, but not that amazing on AD when they have the option to run or flash.
Exhaust may allow you an easier time with bruisers, but this is a team game, not 1v1. The three summoners listed will give you the most effective results, and I still stand by the Support getting exhaust rather than the AD.
Passive: True Grit
Graves gains 1 / 2 / 3 bonus armor and magic resistance every second he remains in combat. This bonus stacks up to 10 times. Graves is considered in combat if he has dealt or received damage in the last 3 seconds.
This passive is what makes Graves so tanky. It's so strong and makes him extremely difficult to trade with for this reason. If you can keep this up while you last hit, and trade, you'll come out ahead easily. But yeah, straightforward. Tanky. Awesome. Etc.
Graves fires three bullets in a cone, dealing physical damage to all enemies in their path. Enemies at close range can be hit by multiple projectiles, but each bullet beyond the first will deal only 35% damage.
Cost: 60 / 70 / 80 / 90 / 100 mana
Cooldown: 12 / 11 / 10 / 9 / 8 seconds
Physical Damage: 60 / 95 / 130 / 165 / 200 (+0.8 per bonus attack damage)
Max Physical Damage: 102 / 161.5 / 221 / 245.5 / 340 (+1.36 per bonus attack damage)
What else do you need to know? His Q hits so hard that worlds are destroyed whenever Graves buckshots. Typically I get close, Q, then away. Try to not get too close when you Quickdraw in to Q, because you can end up in a bad situation if the support has CC or the jungle is near (like coming to gank through lane).
W: Smoke Screen
Graves fires a smoke canister at the target area, dealing magic damage upon landing and creating a cloud of smoke for 4 seconds. Enemies inside the smoke cloud will be slowed and will have their vision reduced to about 500 range; everything else will look like it is in the Fog of War.
Area of effect radius: 250-300 (estimate)
Cost: 70 / 75 / 80 / 85 / 90 mana
Cooldown: 20 / 19 / 18 / 17 / 16 seconds
Magic Damage: 60 / 110 / 160 / 210 / 260 (+0.6 per ability power)
Slow: 15 / 20 / 25 / 30 / 35%
This ability is a defining skill for Graves. Team fights are won by this, despite the simplicity of its design. It doesn't seem powerful until you experience a fight that you're completely disrupted off all vision.
You want to use this as an escape/disengage during lane. Also, say if you're running Taric/Graves you can just smoke screen the Soraka, then burst down the AD without Soraka being able to have vision to exhaust or heal them. Also if you end up having to 1v1 their AD, throw it on top of them. It seriously messes their vision up.
In team fights, you want to land this in the middle of everyone. Disrupting their vision causes disorientation, and ultimately puts your team on the upper hand. Like really, I thought this was worthless at first but throwing it down in the right area can change the course of battles.
Graves dashes forward, gaining an attack speed boost for 4 seconds. Using autoattacks on enemy units, but not structures, lowers the cooldown of Quickdraw by 1 second each autoattack.
Cost: 50 mana
Cooldown: 22 / 20 / 18 / 16 / 14 seconds
Attack Speed: 40 / 50 / 60 / 70 / 80%
An ability that increases attack speed that reduces its CD by each auto attack... nice. This is essentially spammable at max rank with , assuming you're positioning and damaging properly in team fights. It also allows for quick barons, which is always good.
The neat thing about is that you can dash up, down, and through certain small areas, like the Dragon/Baron cliff, the river ramps near mid, and a few more that are obvious. And no, you can't go through thick walls with it.
R: Collateral Damage
Graves fires an explosive shell in a straight line, dealing heavy physical damage to the first champion it hits (also damages non-champion enemies whilst in flight). After hitting a champion or reaching the end of its range, the shell explodes dealing physical damage in a cone behind the target.
Cost: 100 mana
Cone Range: 800 (estimate)
Cooldown: 100 / 90 / 80 seconds
Initial Physical Damage: 250 / 350 / 450 (+1.4 per bonus attack damage)
Explosion Physical Damage: 140 / 250 / 360 (+1.2 per bonus attack damage)
So assuming your Q does land, the max damage it does is only 10 off at Rank 5 from Rank 2 ult. Graves Q already does insane damage, and think of as using Q twice in a row. The damage they do in synergy is unreal.
Keep in mind the cone damage it does goes way past the ult range shown, meaning if dat Ashe is ecsaping with <100 health after flashing and barely out of range, use it and she'll die.
Graves is so strong and his damage is amazing. Make sure you use one of the strongest utility abilities in the game properly, and not completely waste it during the team fight.
The Q and R burst probably the strongest of any AD carry. Because of this, use it and abuse other ADs with it and win lane.
How to play with/against every AD/Support
- Medium - Easy to lane against in the sense that your Q can hit her through minions and she can't use through them. However, she does outrange you and can do this really weird kiting thing that you walk back, she autos with her slow on, you walk back to harass, she walks back and you get no shots off, you run away, she autos you again. YEAH IT'S WEIRD.
Anyway I haven't had problems with Ashe. Just dodge the arrow, you'll be fine. If you're running a kill lane, Ashe is extremely susceptible to Graves's high amount of burst. Like seriously, if you and get her stunned with ignite + both your ults and Q she's 99% dead (soraka armor heal OP).
1v1: Her low health pool allows you to basically burn her down before you die, assuming you DODGE THE ARROW.
- Wtf? - She's really weird. I haven't played versus a Cait in a while, but I've never really had trouble. She does outrange you and that makes exchanging pretty much impossible. This is one of the few times you'll want to E>Q> then chase down with your attack speed steroid.
1v1: Midgame you hit so much harder than her it's like sort of a joke. He has more utility, damage, but endgame I actually think she does kill Graves with her range advantage. Not that it matters, because the game will be FAR over with Graves's midgame early/midgame dominance. ^_^
- Hard - Almost forgot about him. He's one of the few ADs that can actually match your damage early damage. I have no clue what his abilities are, as I refuse to play him because his plane is so loud and annoying. Anyway, I know his gattling gun thing shreds armor and his Q spam is good harass. You basically abuse your own Q range against him, and when the time is right, move in for the kill.
You can disengage from his gattling gun relatively easy with your dash and smoke screen. His valkyrie thing or whatever (his dash) is SO good because of the range it covers. However, if he does this offensively, it puts him in a vulnerable position. Just keep that in mind.
- Medium - This is a pretty fun matchup. He can kill you if you mess up. Playing against good Ezreals is always interesting, because either of you can snowball so easily from each other's deaths. The burst from his ultimate has sort of a long cast time, meaning you SHOULD dash out of it, then nuke him with your Q/R damage.
Dodge Ezreal's , , and blow him up. He's very squishy, and most Ezreal's rush BT but I've seen a few go Phage into Trinity. Either way, don't be scared of them. Most Ez players feed off of that and play super aggro.
- Medium - Boring lane, especially if he just sits back and farms. He destroys teams late game, so you kind of want to get an early advantage. HOWEVER, if he farms better than you or kills you, the lane is basically over and you need to play defensive and hope your team can carry you.
Like seriously, fed Kogmaws midgame are scary. If you both go into midgame without kills, you're a bit stronger just because you're Graves and midgame is YEAAAH for you.
Anyway, the way to play versus him is to exchange smart, getting the most damage out of your Q and backing off, either by hitting with multiple bullets and dashing away, or just Qing at max range. Either way, outfarm him and just try to get an advantage somehow, because you need one before lategame comes along.
- Easy - At first I thought this lane was impossible. always did so much damage, can't exchange with her, gives her an extra auto, blah blah blah.
She's not that difficult. You just abuse your Q, which takes off her passive off, and by properly dashing toward and away, you can make her waste Impure Shots then go exchanges that you'll win. Aggressive supports destroy her, as she has no escape and a shorter range than say Kog'maw.
You can't really die to her unless you make a HUGE mistake since you can smoke and dash, and she really has no chasing power since you already broke her passive.
- No Idea - People say Sivir counters Graves. I've yet to encounter a Sivir other than a really bad one, so instead of feeding you all false information, I'll give you my thoughts on how the fight would be.
I can't really imagine her winning a 1v1 with Graves. She can spellshield the Q but the CD on it is ~20 seconds and Buckshot is on a 12 second CD. This means you can hit her before it's up, and also use smoke screen since that will break the spell shield, opening up your E>Q>R
So yeah. Easy? Idk.
- Easy - Vayne is pretty easy to face against Graves with. I mean I've beaten Graves with Vayne before, but a Bloodthirster Graves will hit harder and burst harder than a BT Vayne at lower levels. This means she can't exchange all that much, and if she does tumble near you, just Q and yeah.
Be careful though, as if you do get by a wall and she condemns with ult up, it can be -really- bad. Most Vaynes also run cleanse, so keep that in mind if you're running a kill lane. Then again, the CD is longer than Taric and Leona's ult/stun abilities.
Full builds... She kills everyone. It's ridiculous. The stealth from her ult is crazy good, and I am 80% sure she beats you 1v1 at full builds.
- Medium - Okay so most Tristana's I see go Heal/Ignite. She's really scary actually because she outranges you slowly. Her endgame destroys you. BUT YOU DIDN'T PICK GRAVES FOR ENDGAME. YOU PICKED HIM TO MAKE THEM 20 MIN SURRENDER.
In that case friend, you Q spam her. Yeah, that's it. Exchange autos and Q. She can't really out-exchange that unless you play poorly and let her auto you and not auto back (the range difference isn't too high between 1-6).
She also falls off HARD in midgame, meaning you shine when she is weak. It's beautiful, isn't it? Just be careful because her ignite + damage over time + ult can actually hit really hard.
- LOL - He's not a real AD champion in my eyes. He offers nothing unique (OH BUT THE ULT GETS CHANNELED TO EVERYONE!), no escape, high damage at LOW levels, slow movement speed, a steroid that procs off KILLING someone, and an arrow thing that is easily dodged.
If you seriously need help, just go up to him and Q his face off. Dodge whatever he throws at you, and make sure when he autos you you auto him back. His damage, I will say, is high, so be careful about being bursted, but honestly, your Q > him by so much it's stupid.
- GG - I hate Urgot so much. Literally the most annoying person to play against. If you don't dodge his barrel of explosives all your health just suddenly disappears. This guy with Taric/Soraka is invincible. When a Taric/Urgot team hits 6, there's not much you can do if you didn't get an early lead.
A good Urgot will rush Frozen Heart versus you, meaning you instantly lose because he has like 150 armor or some amount that you can't really compete with. Again, he scales off so just farm and try not to die.
If you have a Leona, the lane is a lot easier though because she applies counter pressure any time they are moving onto you.
Abuse your Q against everyone, Dash properly to avoid them from getting equal or greater exchanges, Dash to chase and do more damage if they run, Q + R to kill. What's not to love about Graves?
Supports (Quick part)
- Her shield amplifies your Q and autos so well that you can actually dash in to get free damage if you're man enough. Versus her, good Jannas will actually absorb your Q damage on their carries and NOT SHIELD AFTER THE FACT (happens way too much lol).
- Pretty fun to have as a partner. You can basically just run up and Buckshot, take a lot of harass walking back, and have her heal you. The sustain and armor she offers is ridiculous, and with your passive, basically makes you godlike. Don't be afraid to duel with Soraka behind you, she's got you covered... except the ones that don't exhaust. Then they say "I wasn't in range," even though they were running away rather than exhausting, or worse, they exhaust AFTER he backs off. LONG RANT OVER.
Playing against Soraka is easy with a kill lane. She is super squishy and you're sometimes better off getting an easy kill from her than the AD. So keep that in mind: KILL SORAKA.
However, you may end up in a bad position that you're simply being out-sustained whenever you do try to trade. You want to as much early damage as possible to BOTH of them with Buckshot, that way she has to pick who she wants to heal, the AD blows health potions, and everyone is happy. Yay.
- Blitz is a fun lane partner because he does all the work for you. If he somehow grabs someone, then more than often it's a free kill. Nothing really intricate about his playstyle... He reaps off player's mistakes. MEANING. Don't get grabbed by Blitz when you play versus him. Your dash makes it x10 easier to dodge, so you really have no excuse.Anyway, feel free to harass him and his AD, especially if his grab is on CD from when you DODGED it.
The silence and burst from his ult is actually kind of scary, especially with the low CD on it. Meaning don't get too close.
- This is hardly worth putting on here. She's one of the most straightforward supports. She does basic range harass, so be careful. She has AMAZING sustain, even if it looks like she's oom, she's still healing, like it's weird.
Keep in mind she is REALLY squishy. I mean like, REALLY SQUISHY. She probably dies faster than Soraka in a Graves/Taric Burst thing. Again, she's nothing special and after the nerfs I haven't seen that many people play her. Don't count her out though.
- Probably my third favorite lane partner. I use him as an example because setting up burst with him is so easy that it's sort of a joke. His armor passive is awesome because it complements your passive.
Playing against Taric is always a bit awkward. The delay on allows for you to Dash away before it actually hits you, as well as put down a smoke screen if you actually can't get to a safe distance with dash. He's annoying to deal with, but when his stun is down you can get free damage off. Stay back, harass his carry SAFELY, and most importantly, make him come to you.
- Super fun to lane with. She's my favorite because she literally just gets onto people, shuts them down, and lets you kill them. Her gap closer allows her to be more effective than Taric's long, delayed stun in that sense. Her strengths are obvious and landing both your ults can easily get kills.
Playing against Leona you'll come to realize she is basically all-inning whenever she moves in. She has no escape and is SO SLOW. This means that if your jungle is coming for a lane gank, and you smoke screen her as she zenith blades onto you, the disorientation it causes her could result in a free kill.
Try not to get initiated on. If you get hit you're going to take a lot of damage, even if you disengage properly. The CD on her gap closer isn't that high, so be careful if you do plan on damaging her whenever she misses.
- No one plays support Lulu anymore. She's annoying to deal with because of her high damage and poke, but running a kill lane versus her, as well as dodging her poke, can make the lane a lot easier. I don't have much experience in this, but her ult can save people through your burst, as well as polymorph you right when you're about to do it.
Team fighting with Graves is pretty simple. Your ultimate should be able to help pick off the carries in the back while you deal with bruisers focusing you. Landing strong smoke screens can allow you to position a bit more recklessly and damage without too much fear of dying.
When you , don't initiate it. You want to use it after the fight has started so you can escape if that poppy is running after you or advance with your team if your frontline has everything covered.
Land smoke, ult, Q, use your brain when you dash, and kill.
Often times people prioritize getting kills in lane and associating that with 'winning lane.'
It's important to note that being 15-20 minion kills (~20g per, so 300-400) short from your opponent is the golds-worth of a kill behind.
Really just keep in mind farming is an essential when playing competitively. If you kill your opponent, or zone them, make sure you use that advantage to farm more than them and not use it as an excuse to lose focus in CS.
This Text Looks Awkward Without a Header
This section is really dedicated for those who want to improve and get better.
Raging- Yeah I made the header red. Chee.
I had a tendency to rage whenever I lost, especially when I started to play ranked. I mean, some of the people you meet... it's frustrating to deal with them. You call them bad, terrible, and really anything you can think of (obviously worse than what I'm saying right now).
It's a defining factor in how you play the game. It's meant to be fun. Losing isn't fun to people, but honestly, winning doesn't make you a better player. If you can walk out of a game knowing you did the best you could, and you lost because of a costly mistake someone else made, you're probably improving.
Elo Hell and Negative Attitudes
So you legitly want to get your elo up? First you have to understand that elo hell DOES NOT exist. Why do I emphasize this? Because negative attitudes are what keep people at lower elos. Sure you can blame someone else, and sure sometimes it actually is their fault, but don't just say "GG" or "I should've went top" after top lane gets first blooded.
The elo system is amazing because the good players will carry themselves out of it. People who go on tilt will eventually lose elo because they are good, it's just they aren't allowing themselves to get passed barriers. You need to break through the obstructions you create for yourself if you legitly want to get better.
Rage-Quitting, Bad Games, and Comebacks- again with the red!
In a recent game I went 0-4 as Warwick top against a Riven. My team was calling me out, and admittedly I was doing terrible that game. I was greedy and tried to save flash, then got distracted since someone was talking to me, so Riven just kept killing me. I asked for ganks, and eventually the jungler came and we easily killed her.
I knew my utility with Warwick ult into late game could shutdown Riven, and with mid/bot doing well, I didn't just ragequit or blame everyone else for my poor performance. I just played, and we won. Bad games happen. That doesn't mean ignore it. That means understand what you did wrong, and fix it..
Play them out. Honestly some of the comebacks I've seen have been amazing, and that's because everyone (or most people) kept a positive attitude, relaxed, and played like a real team. Ultimately it doesn't come down to the better solo player, but the player who can work with his or her team.
If you want to get higher elo, then you need to be super serious. Tell everyone off when they make a mistake and trash talk to the other team constantly. When that Soraka is typing, jump out of the bushes, Q, ignite and ult her before she has time to react! <-- Joke
Okay like seriously, if you're tired or not in a good mood, ranked games probably aren't the best option. I mean I ranked when I'm tired and I play fine I guess, but if you suck when you do I don't recommend it. MORE IMPORTANTLY. IF YOU'RE MAD, ANGRY, UPSET, OR RAGING, YOU NEED TO TAKE A BREAK. Why waste all that effort into those previous wins from games you -know- you're going to lose? Take a break. It's basically gambling. "I'll win this next game!... NO THIS TIME!"
Yeah, take a break. Quit. Play again in an hour, day, or whenever you're in a better mood.
Yeah, this isn't a repeat section. There's a huge difference from what I'm about to say from the last thing I wrote.
It's important that you play passive and aggressive based off the situation. For instance, if a Blitzcrank has recently missed his grab, you can probably get a few free shots off since he can't really do anything besides run up to you and knock you up into the air... which really shouldn't happen. Same with Leona, or really any aggressive supports. Time their cooldowns though, and don't be caught by surprise when you -thought- he didn't have grab.
Passivity vs Aggression
People have a tendency to play worse when you're against someone who you think is better than you. If the person is playing aggressive, bullying and pushing you around, there's a certain sense of dominance and AWESOME feeling you're allowing him. You know when you get fed and go like 10-0? You feel invincible, and that's partially because you're having a good game.
When you have a bad game, or being zoned hard, you're going to start thinking he's better than you in the sense that if you had to go into a 1v1 situation right now he'd destroy you.
Part of this is picking your battles properly and outplaying, like I wouldn't stand out in the open as Ashe to zone out a Blitzcrank/Graves. Some matchups will be difficult, but ultimately you have to react to what they do and can't let them walk over you.
Being Baited and Jungle Ganks
So you're in lane. That Ezreal is half health and suddenly going aggressive against you after pushing to his tower. You can kill him obviously, but then suddenly Nocturne ults, and you and your support are forced to either flash or die.
Random acts of aggression indicate usually some sort of gank. More than often, people aren't going to engage fights that they know they can't win, so don't fall for it. They are going to somehow get away before you kill them if they play properly, and that ganker will clean you and your support up easily.
This is just a section I thought I'd throw in. You can build properly, watch streams, watch friends, but ultimately it comes down to how you play and what you do. Make smart choices, don't feed, and don't go for that Janna sitting alone in lane at half health when it's a little too perfect (damn you Nunu, getting baited by her and dying to Amumu in brush ><)
Thanks guys for reading. I can't believe I made my Draven guide before I did with my actual main champion. Oh well. I tried to make this one a bit more indepth. I looked at the current top Graves guide, and I figured I had enough differences in how I play him to make a useful guide.
Anyway, comment, upvote, downvote (kidding, don't), suggestions, and or just say hey. :) LOL
I don't know why I'm still writing. It's so late. Ugh. NOW I HAVE TO GO BACK AND CHANGE THE ICON SIZES AND THROW IN RANDOM COLORS. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
There is SO MUCH RANDOM COLOR. Anyway, hope you liked. Have a good whatever. I actually like the small icons, I'll probably just make them a bit larger from default. Not that you guys will even know what I'm talking about since it's already changed by the time you read this.